I noted that “humor” is a designated category at Science Based Medicine, and that I hadn’t made full use of it yet. I hope that the holiday season has put you in the mood for a whimsical look at Christmas – from my “skeptical family” to yours. Enjoy!


My sister Vicki lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband, three children and an alarmingly large and slobbery Saint Bernard named Gilbert. Several Christmases ago she decided to teach her then 5-year-old son, Harrison, about Christmas tree decorating. She took him to a Christmas tree farm and helped him select a tree. They hauled it back to the house and my sister managed, with no help whatsoever from Gilbert, to set it up in a nice corner of the living room. The tip of the tree reached the ceiling and its full figured branches spread from icy window to window.

Vicki and Harrison spent hours and hours winding lights, tinsel, ornaments, paper angels and popcorn strings around the tree. Little Harrison couldn’t wait to see the final product, with glittering lights and a magical star to top off their fine work. They decorated into the early evening, and the living room grew dark as the sun set over the snow covered neighborhood. At last it was time to plug in the tree lights.

As Vicki plugged in the lights for the first time, Gilbert roused himself from his resting place in front of the fireplace and shook off his drowsiness. Harrison held his breath in eager anticipation of the twinkling display that he had helped to create. My sister turned off all the overhead lights.

As the plug entered the outlet, the tree lit up with thousands of tiny glittering lights.

Harrison marveled at his glorious creation. “Mom, it’s the most beautiful tree in the world!”

My sister sat down on the couch and hugged her son tightly in her lap as they relaxed and enjoyed the view. Suddenly, Harrison’s eyes fixed on one of the branches.

“Mom… look! There’s an icicle on the tree!!”

My sister squinted and followed the direction of Harrison’s pointing finger.

Sure enough, there was a glassy, 5 inch long, icicle-appearing object perched in a tree branch in the middle of the tree.

Harrison’s raised his voice with glee: “Mom! It’s a Christmas MIRACLE!!”

The little boy broke free of his mom’s grasp and ran up to the tree to inspect the icicle at close range. As he reached out his hand to clasp it, his look of amazement turned to horror. The icicle was in fact a long string of dog drool that had flicked off of Gilbert when he shook himself out of his sleep.

“Ewww!!!” Harrison screamed.

My sister slowly realized what had happened and started laughing uncontrollably. Gilbert wanted to get in on the fun and began barking and running in circles. He became tangled up in the extension cord and pulled the tree right out of the tree stand. At that moment, Vicki’s husband returned from shopping with the other 2 children. As he turned on the lights he found my sister trapped under an unraveling Christmas tree, a hysterical child frantically wiping his hands on paper towel, and a barking, drooling Gilbert in the midst.

“What happened here?!” he shouted, attempting to rescue Vicki from underneath the tree.

“It’s a Christmas miracle” was her muffled cry.

And this story will be in our family for a long time to come.


This post originally appeared here.


Posted by Val Jones

Val Jones , M.D., is the President and CEO of Better Health, PLLC, a health education company devoted to providing scientifically accurate health information to consumers. Most recently she was the Senior Medical Director of Revolution Health, a consumer health portal with over 120 million page views per month in its network. Prior to her work with Revolution Health, Dr. Jones served as the founding editor of Clinical Nutrition & Obesity, a peer-reviewed e-section of the online Medscape medical journal. Dr. Jones is also a consultant for Elsevier Science, ensuring the medical accuracy of First Consult, a decision support tool for physicians. Dr. Jones was the principal investigator of several clinical trials relating to sleep, diabetes and metabolism, and she won first place in the Peter Cyrus Rizzo III research competition. Dr. Jones is the author of the popular blog, “Dr. Val and the Voice of Reason,” which won The Best New Medical Blog award in 2007. Her cartoons have been featured at Medscape, the P&S Journal, and the Placebo Journal. She was inducted as a member of the National Press Club in Washington , DC in July, 2008. Dr. Jones has been quoted by various major media outlets, including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and the LA Times. She has been a guest on over 20 different radio shows, and was featured on CBS News.