Prayers, love, and hope

We celebrated our daughter's birthday recently. She and her sister are the love of our lives. Of course, there was a party at our house. The whole family was there, four generations. The house was overflowing with good wishes and cheer, much-needed in my case. The events of the last two months have given me much to be thankful for, much to ponder, much to reflect upon. The whole day came together with a big cake, the chides about "how many candles there were," the wish, and then the 3-year-olds blew out the candles with the two smaller ones watching in amazement.

All of this happened with the backdrop of a world in turmoil, a political environment driven by partisan rigidity, and now a series of national tragedies - superstorm Sandy, the mall shooter, and Newtown, Conn. These events have left broken lives in their wake. Our ability to explain falls way short considering the scope of the loss. In our Wikipedia-Siri world of instant answers, we grow impatient when seemingly there are no answers.

We know that bad things happen; we also know that with faith, there is hope for better times ahead. We can rely upon our Judeo/Christian heritage, the founding philosophy of our republic. This is a philosophy that honors fathers and mothers; that respects differing viewpoints without rancor; that promotes freedom, peace, and self-reliance; that sets societal goals well above the lowest common denominator; that advances goodwill beyond our borders. From these principles come hope, strength, courage, and love, in short, the ability to cope with terrible tragedy and find renewal in simple things, like a birthday party.

Back a few years, at the ripe old age of 3, my younger daughter observed her parents a-frenzy about something. She tugged on our pants and said, "Just remember, Mommy and Daddy, life is life." We laughed. So little, so wise. Those words have stayed with me all these years.

Life will get better. It will take time. We confirm our purpose and faith. So, this Christmas, make room in your prayers for all those who have experienced loss. Let your family know how much you love them. And rekindle hope in your heart.

Stanley Ralph, Moorestown

Moderation in all things

As a registered dietitian, I cringe at articles that call foods "forbidden" ("Forbidden foods," Dec. 17). No one food or beverage needs to be forbidden by parents; people should learn moderation and how to select foods best for their diets. Soft drinks, breakfast pastries, and cereal can be part of a healthy diet, when knowing appropriate portion sizes. I counsel my clients, which include individual patients and companies such as Coca-Cola, that all foods can be enjoyed as a part of a balanced diet in sensible portions.

Carol Meerschaert, Paoli,

Appreciate and respect teachers

Bravo, and thank you for pointing out the special nature of teachers and the contributions they make daily in educating, leading, and caring for our children. ("Newtown tragedy taught lesson about teachers," Dec 18). There are no medals for valor for teachers, as there are for soldiers, police and firefighters. However, perhaps our tribute to the Newtown teachers could be a reaffirmation of society's appreciation and respect for teachers and the commitment and heroism they display daily in classrooms across America.

John F. Domzalski, Philadelphia,