Normally, I would be writing some witty or insightful column about Christmas and past memories and holiday fun, rosy and joyful about the upcoming holiday to be spent with loved ones, praying – or dreading – a white Christmas, depending on my mood.
I will try, but today, I am not sure I can. My heart isn’t in it at this moment.
As I’m writing this column, breaking news about a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut rages across the airwaves and social media platforms. A gunman gained access to an elementary school, specifically a kindergarten classroom, killing 26 individuals before taking his own life.
The twenty students were in kindergarten at Sandy Hook Elementary School, their entire lives in front of them, an open road to choose what path they deemed best for their lives. The six adults who lost their lives shared their enthusiasm for education with these kids, trying to make a difference, shaping future generations.
My mom was a Kindergarten teacher, and I spent time subbing in the “K” room in several area schools. How do you describe the vibe in a Kindergarten classroom? Innocent. Trusting. Hopeful. Optimistic. (Patient and saintly are perfect adjectives to describe kindergarten teachers.)
I just stopped by our school’s kindergarten classroom yesterday. Kids were seated at tables, munching on apples and maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after experiencing a ride in a sleigh pulled by Clydesdale horses. Full of energy. Thrilled about the outing. Wide-eyed and full of innocence. A snapshot of exuberance and childhood worth cherishing.
Now, the one word that comes to mind: unfathomable.
As a parent and grandparent, my heart breaks for those who are unable to bring home their child(ren) following today’s events. I look at pictures of our four grandsons, thankful they are home safe and sound with their parents.
As a teacher, I’m saddened how students’ and teachers’ lives were muted in a place they considered safe. Schools should offer shelter from harm, and we, as a society, need to take measures to ensure wellbeing while there.
This is not just an isolated incident in a sleepy Connecticut town. It could happen anywhere. How do you make sense of this tragedy? How do you and a community – an entire nation grieving – recover from another senseless act of violence?
I’m not sure what the answer is, except that this is not the time to turn heartbreak into a political debate.
This is the time to begin healing, to practice patience and understanding. This is the time to hug those who mean the world to you as well as those who need a hug the most.
This morning, 27 people crawled out of bed and prepared for the day. Some raced out of the door, forgetting to say anything to those they love. Others whispered ‘I love you’ before taking off to tackle the day.
Tonight, 27 families need strength and wisdom and hope and faith and prayers and understanding.
My Christmas wish is simple, prayers for everyone during this Christmas season.