Ghosts of Christmas Past

Christmas Card

I love Christmas Cards

Warning, this post is not about books.

Each year, I write a letter to friends and family, but I try to avoid bragging or writing about things everyone knows anyway. I really hate those sorts of letters. In my letter, I try to present a humorous take on the previous year, and I always include a few photos, usually of my son (who is kinda cute) and my husband, who is rather dignified, but certainly good looking. Since I am the family photographer, it can be difficult finding a picture of me, but I try. I put the letter in a traditional card, because I really like getting cards, and the only way to get some is to send some.

However, each year, I update my card list, and there are several addresses that are deleted or altered, because the recipient died, or Mr. and Mrs. becomes one or the other, because one of them passed on. This morning, I opened a few more cards, and one of the ladies had written a note that she misses her husband so much. The card I sent her was one of the ones that I had to alter, and I never hit the delete key without thinking about how difficult it is to go through the holidays with an empty chair, a lonely meal, or a side of the bed that is no longer occupied. While this is sad, it is also life.

Thankfully, some folks are still having children, and those will bring joy to those of us fortunate enough to have them. I’m very blessed to have an almost two-year old granddaughter. Lately, I have taken an old kid-craft version of the nativity, and put it within her reach. She can point to the “baby” which is merely a folded piece of felt with a wooden head glued on it, and she can also identify the “mama” and the “daddy” which are made of sticks, cloth, and glue. This little wood and cloth scene has some “hay” and a “star” for her to talk about as well. While she can’t form sentences, she does seem to realize that this object has some significance. Perhaps, next year, I can show her one with a bit more detail, and explain why there are holidays to celebrate.

In the years to come, I will take out some photo albums, and show her those who have passed from this world, as well as sharing photos from more recent times. Hopefully, she will grasp the importance of family. Christmas can be sad, because of those I have lost, but it is also very happy, because I have a future to build as well.

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White Lies: A Tale of Babies, Vaccines and Deception—a review

While researching the relationship between vaccines and illness, I ran across a fiction title that so interested me that I bought it, but other matters (and books) were in the way. One evening, iPad in hand, I sat down to read a bit before bed. I launched the Kindle App, and the title jumped out at me again— White Lies: A Tale of Babies, Vaccines, and Deception. Thinking I would read just a bit, I began. Quite honestly, the book was like 99 cents, so I wasn’t expecting much. I didn’t get to sleep early that evening, because the book grabbed my attention. Indeed, I finished it within a couple of days.

All mothers are a bit apprehensive about that nurse coming toward a new infant, needle in hand. I remember my pediatrician practically running over me when I voiced concerns about all of the vaccinations that were suggested (indeed required) for my own children. When I was a youngster, I had vaccinations for small pox, DTP, and polio. That was it, and all of the minor illnesses were a matter of take a few days off from school and enjoy a good book or something.

Nowadays, children are vaccinated against many illnesses, including fairly minor ones. And many parents and health professionals are concerned, and rightly so. There are too many vaccines in the same needle; there is too much mercury; there is no need for certain shots. But, if we don’t vaccinate, our country will regress and some of the girls will have cervical cancer. There are convincing arguments on both sides; that is the nature of controversy.

Sometimes, the best way to humanize such a controversy is via fiction, and that is what White Lies does. The reader is introduced to Jean, a divorce lawyer who doesn’t have the expertise or desire to handle a case involving a brain injury, and Lacy, a mom who doesn’t trust any lawyer other than Jean, who handled her divorce. As Lacy pushes Jean to learn about her son’s tragic injury and as Jean involves various experts, the reader gets an education in medicine, government, and risk. Every fear that a mother might have is realized in Lacy’s tragic case, and it is this emotional involvement, rather than actual suspense (although there is a bit of that) which keeps the reader turning the pages. The tale is extraordinarily readable, considering the subject matter, and I can honestly say that this is a book that should be in every mother’s to be read stack. Even non-readers ought to give it a shot (pun intended) because it has a powerful message.

The publisher states that the book is inspired by true events, and that is made abundantly clear in the notes that follow the novel. After I finished it, I was back researching vaccines, but with new ideas and resources. Sarah Collins Honenberger’s White Lies is a good read but it will haunt readers, especially mothers. Don’t let that stop you, because this novel has a message that needs to be heard.