(153) Sweet and Sour Candy Canes: The Happy and Sad Sides of Christmas

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Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)


Molly Scarfs the Ham in Record Time

We stayed outside less than five minutes, saying goodbye to my son and his family after an early Christmas visit. Returning inside, Molly skulked away with her plumed tail dragging along the floor—a sure sign that she got into something. In less than five minutes, Molly managed to eat over one-half of the remaining ham that I left on the counter only long enough to say goodbye. She showed no interest in the ham earlier and had few food indiscretions in the past few months, ignoring even the candy canes that dangle from the tree. Consequently, it never crossed my mind that she would snatch the ham while we visited briefly outside.

Guess who is in the doghouse this Christmas? It is back to the doggie treadmill in January for Miss Molly.

The Candy Cane

Ham is a holiday staple for Americans, just as the candy cane fills every Christmas stocking. Candy canes come in every flavor from peppermint to chocolate. Stores even carry sour and gummy candy canes.

For Christians, the candy cane represents the stripes Christ bore on the cross from being whipped and tortured in the crucifixion. The red represents the blood He shed for our sins. The sweetness of the candy cane reminds us of the marvelous gift of salvation that is free to anyone who seeks forgiveness and asks Jesus into his/her life. Although that sweetness permeates our lives, it comes with the sour side, which is rejection by the human race of the most precious gift anyone could ever receive—eternal life.

For those with a secure salvation, Christmas comes with joy. For those without, the holidays may be a source of agitation and anguish. Even believers may find the holidays difficult—especially living with PTSD.

VA Offers Help and Hope 

The VA offers a list of warning signs that may tell us our Veteran is suffering in silence and may need help. The website suggests that it starts with signs of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and/or hopelessness. Twelve specific signs are mentioned to watch for. The VA also shortlists seven behaviors that red flag the contemplation of suicide.

The VA offers the Veteran a self-check quiz to help the Veteran learn whether stress and depression might be affecting them. Available on-line, the quiz takes about ten minutes and is voluntary, confidential, and free. The VA offers the quiz on the link near the bottom of the Crisis Hotline page.

The VA Crisis Hotline is available to help Veterans, friends of Veterans, and family members of Veterans.

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.

The Crisis Line has answered nearly 2 million calls and provided emergency services to over 53,000 Veterans since launched in 2007. It can help you, too, if you are depressed or suffering at the holidays and need help.

We love our Veterans and their families and want them safe.

Please join the Miss Molly Team in bringing Christmas joy to our Veterans by caring enough to get them help when needed.

Post your Comments: 

What is the worst thing your pet has done during the Christmas holiday? Please reply below.

About the blogger 

Dr. Penelope “Penny” Culbreth-Graft is a retired city manager and graduate professor. She lives with her disabled Vietnam Veteran husband, William, and his service dog, Molly, on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. She writes, paints, cares for her husband, and spends time with her granddaughter.