“Christmas is a magical time of the year and Ronald McDonald House Charities kept that magic alive”.
Guest Blogger: Tony Maguire
Christmas is a time for family, and that’s no different for families staying with us, ensuring that they can make precious memories together even when far from home. When baby Noah was born, the Maguire family spent Christmas at our Camberwell House. Here Dad Tony tells us how his family spent Christmas together.
Christmas is the most magical time of the year. Spending time with family, seeing children smile and having a few special surprises is what it is all about. And for us, Ronald McDonald House Camberwell kept that magic alive!
Our baby boy Noah was born 16 October 2016 and within a short time, the reality of not having a ‘normal’ Christmas became quite apparent. Friends and family started to ask us what we were going to do, but with everything going on at the hospital, Christmas seemed like an eternity away and to be truthful an inconvenience.
As 25th December approached, the tide felt like it started to turn. We made our peace with not being at home for Christmas, and the amazing people at “the little house”, as our three year old Luke called it, really started to change our approach (he was referring to our en-suite room, not the whole 24-bed property).
The Christmas decorations went up and the homely, warming, caring place we were staying in suddenly turned into a winter wonderland in every communal room you went; the magic of Christmas was alive! The lovely ladies at the House got us in the Christmas spirit and made us realise we had to make the most of it.
Feelings of guilt and being torn between our baby in hospital and our three year old at the House would frequently attack us. Then every time we had that feeling there was something to put our mind firmly back where it should be. The decorations, the dinner, the smiles and laughter, children playing with their toys. It was never going to be the easiest of situations, but the House went above and beyond and even recreated the magic!
The House sprinkled some special reindeer dust on Christmas Eve so Father Christmas and his elves didn’t forget about all the boys and girls that wouldn’t be in their normal homes that year. Then the shortest sleep of the year commenced. When the big day arrived, I can honestly say we had a great day. The reindeer dust worked, as Luke woke to presents and a Mummy and Daddy that felt an abundance of mixed emotions but were just about keeping it together at this point!
We had a lovely letter under the door wishing us a Merry Christmas and saying that there was a surprise downstairs for the children. We opened our door to find that Father Christmas had also left a beautiful hamper for us and more presents for Luke and Noah… I suspect this was with help from the ladies running the House.
We went downstairs to the main dining room and students from a local sixth form were there with the biggest smiles, silly Christmas outfits, even more presents and… a snow machine! We really couldn’t believe the thought and effort these had put in to make our Christmas a special one. This selfless act really made us realise that although we weren’t there by choice due to Noah’s condition, we were however very lucky!
Some of our family arrived at this point so Jane and I were able to go and see Noah together and pop back many times throughout the day with the family also. The Nurses at Kings College Hospital even wore reindeer hats, sparkly outfits, and great big grins!
A big tradition of Christmas is obviously the dinner. Well, to say we were taken aback by the kindness of the House would be an understatement. The wonderful Maureen arrived at the House at 8am on Christmas morning (when everyone else was still sleeping) to cook various meats for all the families Christmas dinner. We then added the trimmings, but all the hassle and hard work had been taken away. Thank you Maureen! Also, a thank you to Julie Nottingham from Tesco (Old Kent Road) who kindly donated the meats! The House Manager Melissa was buzzing around spreading Christmas cheer and giving cuddles; the day simply wouldn’t have been the same without her and the unbelievable efforts of many others.
As I mentioned earlier, “Christmas is a magical time of the year and Ronald McDonald House Charities kept that magic alive”. The memories of that day will never be forgotten. Even thinking about it again now brings a huge smile to my face and I truly cannot thank the Charity enough for everything they have done for us, not only on Christmas Day but before and after also.
All our love,
The Maguires (Jane, Tony, Luke, and Noah)
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