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Christmas week is a strange time in the hospital.

There’s an added melancholy for patients who spend the holidays hospitalized — a sense that their illness, whatever it might be, is so bad they must lie in bed while the world hangs ornaments and roasts chestnuts on open fires. It’s a time when the doctors and nurses on call start to feel the weight of jobs that too often keep them close to computers and far from their families.

And yet, a certain camaraderie emerges, an extra measure of meaning and gratitude growing from the recognition that we’re all there together. Santa hats emerge. Ugly sweaters replace white coats. Candy canes flow freely.

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