At birth, twins Hannah and Kaitlyn Jolley each weighed just over 4 pounds - less than most people gain over the holidays.
Although the baby girls - born 7 weeks premature - had plumped up a bit when they finally were released from LDS Hospital, they still had plenty of room in the homemade flannel Christmas stockings in which they were wrapped and released last week.The stockings, made by the hospital's volunteer auxiliary, are an annual tradition - an attempt by the hospital to bring holiday cheer to patients and their families whose happiness is dampened by illness.
Unfortunately, the Grinches don't stop dispensing aches and pains and assorted ailments during the holidays - even among those who have been nice.
"It's hard for the kids to be in the hospital so we try to make it fun for them," said Colleen Clark, spokeswoman for Primary Children's Medical Center.
The children's hospital went the extra mile to bring a little touch of homemade glee to hospital-bound kids. In fact, the new institution itself was transformed into a Christmas fairyland, complete with an elaborate ice sculpture featuring nine reindeer, including Rudolph himself.
Santa and Mrs. Claus gave carriage rides to many hospitalized patients last week, and the popular duo returned with goodies Christmas morning. Santa made the rounds at University Hospital Christmas Eve.
At Primary Children's, children dialed St. Nick direct via the "Ho-Ho Hotline."
That is, when they're weren't buying gifts for parents and siblings in the hospital's special shop. Their cash came in the form of tickets given to the pint-sized buyers by the hospital's Childlife Department.
At most area hospitals, Christmas music filled the air for weeks. School, community and employee choirs caroled throughout the halls at St. Marks Hospital, where Holiday Project, a community group, helped Santa distribute gifts to patients.
At Pioneer Valley, hospital employees aided the bearded gent outside the hospital. This year they were substitutes for Santa at six homes.
The gift of giving came in other forms at area hospitals.
LDS Hospital's Volunteer Auxiliary this year sponsored a special Lights for Learning Tree to help fund nursing scholarships.
For a tax-deductible $3 donation, contributors had a light placed on a tree, displayed near the hospital's main entrance. The lights, set aglow Dec. 17, were placed as a remembrance or to honor someone the contributor loves or admires.
According to auxiliary president Bertie Scheidell, the lights were initiated because her group believes nurses are the heart of the hospital. "Their unique combination of training, skills and compassion helps bring healing to their patients."
Stephen and Sandi Jolley are well-acquainted with that compassion and skill. Combined with modern technology, it saved the lives of their twins who are home for the holidays.
"They are doing just fine. They just eat and sleep," the excited new mother said. "It's our Christmas present to have them home."
The twins' oversized Christmas stockings will be hung each year by the family's tree.
But Mom and Dad are convinced that never again will the stockings be filled with such precious, priceless gifts. Even with Santa's help.