Holiday cheer washed through the hospital a little early, but just in the nick (the St. Nick?) of time for patient Robert Brown. &ldquo;Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,&rdquo; said Santa (Gene Parkison) as he and Mrs. Claus (Carol Parkison) and their elves entered Brown&rsquo;s room on the 21st floor of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute a few days before Christmas. Earlier in the day, Brown had undergone a four-hour operation to remove the cancerous tumor in his jaw. The right side of his face was swollen and a little sore, but a big smile spread across his face when he saw Santa. &ldquo;Wow, thank you, I truly appreciate this,&rdquo; Brown told Gene Parkison, who came bearing gifts. &ldquo;This is beautiful.&rdquo; The Parkisons have been putting smiles on the faces of OSUCCC &ndash; James patients for several years, as part of the hospital&rsquo;s annual Santa Rounds. Three teams of Santas, each helped by a few elves, deliver holiday cheer, smiles and presents to OSUCCC &ndash; James patients. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a cancer survivor,&rdquo; said Carol Parkison, when asked why she and her husband participate in Santa Rounds. They are both year-round volunteers at the OSUCCC &ndash; James. &ldquo;I came here for a second opinion (after her diagnosis) and this place saved my life.&rdquo; Santa Rounds are organized by the James Patient Experience team. This year&rsquo;s crew of volunteers included about 25 people, a mix of employees of Ohio State and non-employee volunteers. They gathered in the lobby of the OSUCCC &ndash; James to get organized and pose for a group photo before hitting the hospital&rsquo;s many floors of patients. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m here because it&rsquo;s a wonderful thing to pay it forward and bring some joy,&rdquo; said Betty Upchurch, an Information Specialist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Upchurch was an elf in the group led by the Parkisons, and they headed up to the 21st floor to begin visiting patients. The key to portraying Santa is to have fun. &ldquo;I start with a big smile and if I can get a smile in return, well, that really makes your night,&rdquo; said Gene Parkison, who, when he&rsquo;s not playing Santa is the mayor of Lexington, Ohio. Another key is an ice pack, placed strategically inside the thick red jacket Gene Parkison wore. Playing Santa is a hot and sweaty job. The key to being Mrs. Claus seems to be having a big heart. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a privilege to be here and spend time with the patients,&rdquo; Carol Parkison said. As the Parkisons and their crew got out of the elevator and walked out onto the 21st floor, a man lying on a gurney was wheeled by. He looked up and saw Santa, smiled and waved. &ldquo;Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,&rdquo; Santa said. Everyone &mdash; the patients and staff of the OSUCCC &ndash; James &mdash; was happy to see Santa and Mrs. Claus. The Parkisons talked to the patients and their families about where they were from, their holiday plans and posed for photos. There were plenty of handshakes, hugs and a few tears. &ldquo;If you peek out the window, you may see Rudolph,&rdquo; Gene Parkison joked. A couple of patients asked for a carol. The elves were happy to oblige, and sang the words to the first verse of Jingle Bells. Brown and his wife, Bertha, were delighted to see Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves. &ldquo;We were just talking about how it didn&rsquo;t seem like Christmastime and they brought back the joy,&rdquo; Robert Brown said after Santa and his crew left his room. &ldquo;They made it special again and I&rsquo;ll always cherish this. I almost broke up when they came in.&rdquo; Robert Brown had a temporary prosthesis implanted in his jaw during the operation earlier in the day, and will soon undergo two more operations to complete the reconstruction. He&rsquo;s optimistic, determined and a little bit stubborn, which are great qualities for someone battling cancer, and said he would like to become a James volunteer and be part of Santa Rounds after he recovers. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m just so grateful to everyone here, and my gratitude is a feeling that will never run out,&rdquo; Robert Brown said. After they visited all the patients on the 21st floor, everyone slid down the chimney (OK, the elevator) to the 20th floor. A friend of Upchurch was a patient on the floor. &ldquo;I hadn&rsquo;t seen her in a day or two, so this was wonderful,&rdquo; Upchurch said. &ldquo;It was meant to be, and she was so excited to see Santa.&rdquo; Peter Basiakos of Patient Experience was a first-time Santa and he and his crew of elves visited patients on two different floors. &ldquo;It was just so touching, to sit and talk to the patients,&rdquo; he said. Through his work with Patient Experience, Basiakos has gotten to know a lot of patients. He used this to help him portray Santa. &ldquo;I knew a few of the patient&rsquo;s names and would call them by their first names,&rdquo; he said, adding his costume disguised his true identity. &ldquo;They were kind of shocked and were saying, &lsquo;how does Santa know my name?&rsquo;&rdquo; After they had visited all the patients on the 20th floor, the Parkisons and their elves gathered by the elevators. &ldquo;Are we done?&rdquo; Mrs. Claus asked. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not finished yet.&rdquo; &ldquo;She&rsquo;ll probably have us back here on Christmas Eve,&rdquo; Gene Parkison said, and then let out a jolly laugh.