ER nurse writes children's Christmas book to reassure kids COVID isn't cancelling holidays

·2 min read

In a year when kids have had birthday parties cancelled and activities changed dramatically, a Calgary ER nurse is doing her best to tell them Christmas won't be called off.

Lisa Rutherford, a local nurse, wrote and illustrated the book Hector and the Virus Vector, which tells the story of Hector the Elf and his quest to save Christmas during a pandemic.

In the book, Rutherford says Santa decides to cancel Christmas because he's trying to find a way to protect the children of the world, but the day is saved by a "science elf" and his experiments.

"I have a three-year-old daughter and when everything went on isolation lockdown, she was freaking out. She was so upset and everything got cancelled for her," she told The Homestretch.

"I just kind of was looking ahead and I'm like, 'Come Christmastime, she's not going to understand,' and so that's kind of where I got the idea from."

The idea also prompted Rutherford — who has a bachelor of science in molecular biology — to use scientific terms because she thinks it's important to introduce kids to these concepts when they are young.

"I know (my daughter is) not going to understand what a vector is or what crystallisation is, but being introduced to those terms, I think is important and it makes it a little more interesting for me to read as well," she said.

She also used the opportunity to write in people she knows in the book.

In one case, Rutherford's postings on social media reached the parents of a four-year-old daughter with a heart defect.

"The mom was telling me that the daughter is just really concerned that Christmas is going to be cancelled," she said.

"She just was so excited for the book that I asked for some photos of the daughter and I drew her in the book."

Lisa Rutherford
Lisa Rutherford

Rutherford is on maternity leave so hasn't had to work in the hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic but feels for the staff involved.

"I've been kind of like watching my friends talk about it and, you know, the struggles that they've been having and not being able to step in because I have this small child that I have to care for. So it's been tricky."

Lisa Rutherford
Lisa Rutherford

The nurse says she's decided that 50 per cent of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the Alberta Children's Hospital.

"My son at three months was in hospital for 10 days and it was a pretty rough experience, but they were just so amazing. And so I'm going to be donating some of the proceeds," she said.

Hector and the Virus Vector is available at Rainbow Ink Designs, which is offering free shipping in Calgary.

With files from The Homestretch.