Editor of the Reformer:

There are times in one’s life when you are unexpectedly dealt a fate that may be devastating and yet may provide a circumstance for an uplifting experience at the same time. Such was the passing of my wife Gail Christmas on March 8th just two short months ago. The emptiness of losing your lifetime mate and the mother of your children of 40 plus years will remain in our souls forever but the vastness of expressions of gratitude and love shown by her colleagues, students, friends and acquaintances from the multiple communities of Brattleboro and Bellows Falls, brought a powerful and lifting sensation to our weakened hearts. It is with such a heartfelt appreciation that I take this moment and express my reflections and thankfulness to those who carried the light back into my family!

For all of you who stood in line for hours on a chilling Vermont evening to pay your respect at Gail’s wake, for those who wrote the hundreds of cards and letters to our family with your sincere expressions of sympathy and antidotes some of us never knew about Gail, and for those from St. Michael’s church whose service provided such a memorable and fitting tribute to her life, we feel extremely indebted. Thanks to the people who organized the reception at the Elks and the many who provided the food following the service.


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The expressions of caring that you shared with all members of the family during those hours, has only added to our admiration for each of you who attended!

Thank you to everyone who generously donated your gifts, in memory of Gail, to St. Michael’s Church and Elementary school.

To the many colleagues and students from Gail’s teaching who related stories of the contributions she willing gave to your education and the influences she made by creating a difference in your lives, I am genuinely grateful to know such, and even more proud of her accomplishments. Your mature thoughts of your understanding that, she was more than just your teacher, spread a glow to our hearts.

I was filled with admiring emotions as I read the article of tribute on Gail’s professional teachings and quality of her caring character she demonstrated daily to her students and communities and I thank the Reformer for its publication. You see, Gail was a devoted wife, mother, daughter and grandmother 100 percent of the time she was at home with us and not in school. It is incredulous for me to think that even after 40 years, I can be moved to a new level of admiration for the person, I already loved so deeply for whom she was, an incredibly loving, giving, and caring individual!

It is with a full heart that my family and I thank all of you who so genuinely and sincerely have helped to shine the light on the life of my wife and our mother, and have helped to console us in our need as we miss one of God’s finest treasures. Gail Goldsmith Christmas (April 30, 1951 - March 8, 2014).

Thank you most sincerely from the Christmas family,

Bill, Courtney, Seth
and Whitney Christmas

Brattleboro, May 12 ***

Editor of the Reformer:

I’d like to thank Representative David Deen of Westminster for leading the passage of the Toxic Free Families Act (S.239) during the recent Legislative session.

Throughout the United States, and even here in Vermont, the weak and outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) doesn’t protect people from exposure to toxic chemicals. In fact, many chemicals found in consumer products are poisoning us and our children. Congress’ failure to act at a federal level, incentivized by industry and big business, puts our health at risk.

This is why I’d like the thank Rep. Deen for helping to pass Vermont’s Toxic Free Families Act. This bill will list the nearly 70 dangerous toxic chemicals found in children’s products. It will also require manufacturers to report the presence of any of these chemicals to the Vermont Department of Health, as well as to pay a $200 reporting fee for each chemical present in a product. These are good steps toward promoting consumer awareness and discouraging manufacturers from including these toxic chemicals in their products.

Again, thank you Representative Deen for helping to make a safer and cleaner Vermont for my young daughter and for all of our children.

Abigail Mnookin

Brattleboro, May 13