My personal Dr. Santa

This Christmas my son just may be on the verge of a horrible case of gut-rot from an unrelenting diet of candy canes, gingerbread houses and cookies. But now, with Christmas less than a week away, I start thinking about things like decorating a holiday tree. (OK, let's cut right to it: There's no such thing as a holiday tree! It's a Christmas tree! Let's call a spade a spade, people).

As I see the same decorations my family has used year after year, I am reminded of the ornament that is no longer with us, though may it rest in peace. Last year I thought Christmas, and that dearly departed ornament, had given my child internal injuries.

A year ago, when my son had finally reached an age when he could safely be in a different room than me (or so I thought), I heard crying coming from downstairs. Because Silas and I are the type of family who simply yell at each other from across the house rather than having face-to-face interaction, he yelled that he broke my miniature snow globe. From a flight of stairs away he claimed not to be hurt; he simply felt bad about breaking my stuff.

I calmly walked down the stairs, mentally preparing myself to vacuum up glass shards (I hate any household chore that includes loud noises). I arrived downstairs to see blood pouring out of his mouth. He had broken the snow globe in his mouth.

When I tell this story, some people are shocked that a 4-year-old would still be sticking stuff in his mouth, but I understand. The smooth, round glass of a miniature snow globe would be so tempting — just a little try! Silas, my dear, don't feel bad. I understand. I regularly stick things like my cell phone, my sunglasses and my hair in my mouth. Do any of us really mature beyond six months?

I drove Silas to the emergency room while feeling gut-wrenching guilt and fear over how I would be judged by the emergency room staff. I may not be up for any parenting awards (I am a big fan of microwaved meals, and I don't have a problem with Silas wearing the same clothes for two days straight), but I certainly don't force my child to eat glass.

I've always loved Ashland Community Hospital. Growing up, I used to visit my dad there while he worked in an office. Kind women there always seemed to have an endless supply of candy, and my dad used to show off any strange skill I had recently acquired. I particularly remember showing people how I could suck my nostrils closed.

Some people hate the hospital smell, but instead of cleaning products and bodily fluids, the hospital smell reminds me of chocolates and peppermints. Now the hospital also reminds me of Christmas.

So, for this column, for the holidays, I would like to tell Dr. Rostykus that he is my own personal Santa Claus. Instead of coal and scolding about supervising my child properly, he delivered me the simple gift of relief and peacefulness.

My child was not permanently injured. He did not have tiny shards of glass waiting to attack his intestines. He could go home and wait for the real Santa to arrive. (Unfortunately, the real Santa was abysmally behind on wrapping his gifts.)

The holidays don't have to just be about friends and family; they can also be about the people who have touched us, even briefly, to make our lives more joyful.

Every Christmas I will think about the doctor who brought not a silent night, but peace on Earth, or at least a more peaceful apartment.

Zoë Abel and her family are currently injury free and enjoying their internal organs. You can contact her at

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