The Postscript: Dispelling holiday rumors

Published 12:57 am Wednesday, November 10, 2021

I have been studying up on frightening holiday rumors and found some surprises.

There is apparently no evidence that any child has ever been poisoned by a Halloween treat.

This is according to the New York Times, which investigated it. There was one case of a dentist in California who handed out laxative pills as Halloween candy. That was certainly a terrible thing to do, but not life threatening. There was a single case of a razor blade found in Halloween candy, but it was later discovered to have been put there by the mother who reported it.

Thanksgiving turkey does not make us terribly sleepy. There is no more tryptophan in turkey than there is in chicken or beef. Nuts and cheese have more.

Christmas poinsettias do not poison dogs or cats.

This one I already knew because, years ago, I had a botanist friend, Diane, who owned a greenhouse and she would read the annual Christmas poinsettia warnings and seethe. Over the years, a number of dogs have been brought into the vet with reported cases of poinsettia poisoning but, in every case, the dog apparently ate something other than poinsettias that made them ill.

Every year, Diane would write to the newspapers that printed the warnings, and every year the warnings would reappear. I’m not sure which bothered Diane more—the spread of false botanical information or the subsequent loss of poinsettia sales.

I’m sure there are many more of these troubling seasonal rumors. We like traditions over the holidays and, along with our traditional foods and traditional fun, we need a few traditional fears.

We need to worry about sticking our tongue on a frozen flagpole (who does this?) or eating lead tinsel, or consuming raw eggs in our eggnog. Peace on Earth is all well and good, but there has to be something to worry about.

This year, everyone is worried about the supply chain. Maybe we won’t get all the Christmas stuff we need when we need it. Maybe there’ll be a blizzard or a rare winter hurricane. Maybe we’ll get stuck in the airport or on the highway or in bed. There’s a lot to worry about.

I’d like to start a new tradition and give up a few of my worries.

I’m not going to worry if there will be enough stuff to buy or how many calories are in the Christmas cookies (they’re so small, after all!) I’m even going to let go of some of my worries for the country and the world—not because there aren’t real things to worry about, but because my worrying is unlikely to make anything any better.

Instead, while my newsfeed continues to fill with doom and gloom and rumors that things are bad and getting worse by the day, I’m going to spread holiday rumors of widespread goodwill and contentment.

I’m going to surprise myself every day with the assurance that I have enough. I’m going to pamper myself with long conversations with my sister and treat myself to extra time with my parents. I’m going to lavish the people I care about with thoughtful words and generous smiles. I’m going to hand out kindness to strangers I meet on the street. I’m going to try to remember that my presence can be a present—if I choose to make it so.

I can’t stop dire rumors from spreading, but maybe I can counteract some of them with positive news and kind actions and happy thoughts. I know it’s not newsworthy, but it might make for a very nice holiday tradition.

Till next time,


Carrie Classon’s memoir is called “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at