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Holiday Spirit – Getting into the season with four moms from Brooksville’s Oak Hill Hospital

The holidays are such a special time for families. As parents, we are often caught up in making holiday crafts, attending holiday parties, preparing holiday meals and wrapping presents. In the busyness of the season, little eyes are watching and learning, taking in each moment and tradition, and learning that giving is better than receiving and family is everything.

Four moms who work at Oak Hill Hospital, Brooksville, Florida, sat down to talk about the holidays:

Stacie Malyszko, RN, MSN, RN-BC, Director of Medical/Oncology/Pediatrics

Mother of two: 8-year-old girl; 7-year-old boy


Erin Possert, RN, BSN, RN, ONC, Manager of Medical Oncology, Pediatrics

Mother of four: 8- and 9-year-old girls; 5- and 11-year-old boys


Alise Arcarola, RN, BSN, RNC-OB, The Maternity Suites – Labor & Delivery

Mother of three: 4-, 9- and 10-year-old girls


Kelley Ventaloro, RN, CEN, Pediatric Emergency Nurse

Mother of four: 4-month-old and 17-year-old girls; 7- and 9-year-old boys


Q: How do you share the Christmas spirit of giving with your children?

Malyszko: We have the kids each adopt an angel through one of the local programs. Then we go shopping together and they pick out the gifts and clothes for that child.

Possert: Each one of my four kids adopts an angel, too. They each have a small savings account and they take 50% of what the present costs from their savings account to pay for that gift. We also provide food baskets for families in need through our church.

Arcarola: I teach them that it’s always good to give back to others. We go through all of their toys, they pick out the nicest ones, and we donate them to a local nonprofit. We try to teach them that there are others in need, and when you are in a position to give to others, you should and to know how extremely lucky you are and never take it for granted.

Q: How do you talk with your children about Santa when they ask questions?

Malyszko: We give each of the kids one or two gifts from Santa and tell them about how we still have to pay for shipping for gifts from Santa! So rather than paying for the shipping of many gifts, we use that money to buy gifts for others in need.

When we buy gifts for others, we really want them to be thoughtful, so we challenge the kids to notice things about their teachers, coaches, friends and family. My son has become really good at this! He’ll say “Mom, Mrs. So-and-so really loves the color purple.” And we’ll search for the perfect purple gift.

Q: What are some of your favorite family traditions?

Malyszko: My mom would wake my three sisters and me up at 4 a.m. to start cooking the meal, and so my daughter and I do that together now. And we’re Italian, my grandparents assimilated here, so we would have an entire Italian meal from soup to nuts, and then of course we would have the traditional American meal with turkey, mashed potatoes, and everything. It was eight hours of food!

Possert: The weekend before Christmas, we would go to my mother-in-law’s community and we would drive around to see the Christmas lights together.

Malyszko: My kids trace the Christmas cookie cutters, color them and make placeholders for each of their family members. The family loves it and it keeps the kids busy in the morning while we’re cooking!

Ventaloro: Every year, my aunt throws a cookie decorating party. She makes everybody aprons and we decorate cookies with dribble spray paint and sprinkles. We have Christmas music playing, and every year we add more kids! My aunt buys special Tupperware and boxes for everyone and we take them home and put them out for Santa.

From our families to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!

Alise, Erin, Kelley & Stacie – Pediatric ER, Pediatric Inpatient Unit and The Maternity Suites at Oak Hill Hospital

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