During my recent hospital rounds I heard a terrible rumor going around the house. At first it was just whispered in dimly lit corners, but soon it grew to be blatantly out in the open for all to hear. The crescendo of the rumor was brought to a head on at one of my recent CEO town halls with staff. I was sure I must have misunderstood or heard it wrong, but sure enough I wasn’t mistaken at all about what they were saying all through our hospital. Someone in the back of the room screamed at me with a Grinchy tone while pointing and accusatory finger saying, “It’s true isn’t it? There really is no Santa Claus.”
Can you believe it? Someone…somewhere… SOMEHOW had started a vicious rumor that he didn’t exist at all. I knew right away this couldn’t be true. Like the real Buddy the Elf, I immediately started having flashbacks of myself as a child. I recall seeing him year after year in my house and in the mall. I know I had opened presents that clearly said they were from the big man himself. My father took the time to read me the poem of all poems, time and again, describing the night before Christmas in such vivid detail of the events that would occur that very night. I even recall phoning a local radio show as a child and talking about my Christmas wish with Santa himself directly in the North Pole. I have no doubt that if my parents took the time to share stories about the legendary man and his reindeer they must be true. I don’t think they would have misled me. Would they?
So before I could muster up the courage to confront this Chippenham & Johnston-Willis rumor head on with our staff, I took some good advice that I was given years ago and asked children for the truth. We all know that children don’t edit themselves and they don’t lie – at least not about something as important as this. So to hear the facts straight up I had the parents in Administration ask their children what the real truth was so that I could communicate back to the CJW family. I go on to share my commentary about their insights. This is what they said:
Moss (8 years) son of Brandon Haushalter Johnston-Willis CEO: “We leave out a magic key for our house for Santa (ever year) .” I appreciate that Moss is most concerned with the fact that his house has no chimney. It makes perfect sense to be worried. If this doesn’t prove he is real then I don’t know what else to tell you. Clearly Santa needs a key to get into the house because his father, one of our fearless leaders, wouldn’t splurge on a proper chimney.
Gibby Haushalter (3 years): “I like Santa’s elves .” Who doesn’t love elves? I am clearly a big fan.
Dallas Hawkins (9 years) son of Roy Hawkins COO at Johnston-Willis: “Snow in Florida! (His previous home state.) Wow – there is snow in Florida but only on Christmas in the Hawkins household. Why is there snow only on Christmas? Santa comes to our home on Christmas day and leaves footprints of snow on the floor. That’s right…it snows in Florida on Christmas day and I’m excited to see it snow in Virginia too!” It is obvious the kids of Florida have the advantage of a workaround too.
Max McManus (12 years): “I always have a really hard time sleeping on Christmas Eve night. I can only sleep for two hours because I am so nervous and excited. I really want a sleeping pill this year – that isn’t a joke Dad—I need one.” (Request was denied.) If Santa wasn’t real would you really want to stay up all night to see what he brought you?
Georgia McManus (10 years): “I like waking up in bed and get really excited thinking that I have presents to open and I get to watch other people open presents I give them. It is great to watch them open my presents. I remember one time Santa visited us in our house and his coat had reindeer buttons and he had a watch that was able to tell us if we were naughty or nice. I was nice.” I particularly like this one because it is about the spirit of giving which, of course, is at the heart of the mystery of Santa.
Ava McManus (8 years): “My favorite thing is to come out of my room Christmas morning and look down from the landing at the presents below to see what Santa has brought in the night. The worst part is my parents stop us to take a lot of pictures.” Her anxiousness is great evidence in Santa being real. Why would she get excited to look down if she thought it was just the same presents from the day before?
Caden Christianson (7 years) Son of Chad Christianson COO at Chippenham: “I love that Santa sends his elf, Bernard, from the North Pole to our house before Christmas. He hides all over the house and tells Santa the good things we do…and bad but I don’t do bad.” I had forgotten about all the important helpers who are the key ingredient to help Santa be accurate and keep us all accountable.
Chance Christianson (4 year): “I love the candy canes and the cookies…. and the presents .” Doesn’t get any more obvious that Santa is real than when he is keenly tuned into Chance’s Christmas needs.
Cannon Christianson (12 months old): No comment. Strangely he doesn’t remember Christmas 2014.
Dayton Strader (20 years) Son of Lynn Strader CFO: “My favorite tradition is our family’s Christmas Eve night and my best Santa memory was getting a 4-wheeler and a dog, Agi.” Most parents know that getting a dog just puts more work on the parent. Commonsense says you just wouldn’t do that so Santa must have been involved.
Payne Strader: (24 years) “My favorite tradition is church on Christmas Eve, breakfast casserole, and family all around Christmas morning.” I don’t have additional commentary on this regarding Santa but it does show you Lynn our CFO actually has a sensitive heart and a soul—she isn’t just all Finance after all.
So there you have it. Clear and compelling evidence that Santa does in fact exist. So I ask you to please help me squash this vicious, malicious, and highly inaccurate rumor at CJW. I hope you and your families have a great Holiday Season and thank you for all that you do to make our hospitals a great place to work and get care.