WEST PALM BEACH, Fl, December 14, 2012 – Heartbreaking tragedy can put the rest of the world into perspective. After the shootings today at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, the kaleidoscope of end-of-semester grades and Christmas shopping and holiday commitments skids sharply into focus.
The stress of mid-terms and the need to check gift shopping off a list slides off the scale of importance compared to the simple safety of our children and our families.
It is nearly impossible to imagine the depth of pain of the families who lost their children today to a single shooter who entered their elementary school and opened fire. Parents are shocked with the utter disbelief that children deposited safely – they thought – at school faced such horror rather than putting finishing touches on holiday crafts.
Today should have been about holiday parties and crafts. Candy canes and dreidels and angels and holiday villages.
And Santa Claus.
For 27 families in Newton, Connecticut, none of the holiday trappings matter anymore. The perfect gift is irrelevant, as are the arguments over party schedules and family duties. No one cares whether they get to open one present on Christmas Eve or whether they have to attend the holiday parade to watch Cousin Frank play the bagpipes.
Because really, the holidays are about family and about spending time with the people you love.
Too often, holidays become stressful as shopping lists and obligations overtake moments with family. Arguments increase in direct proportion to strain of fitting in everything, getting it all done, being multiple places at one time.
We all know that none of it really matters, yet year after year we fall back into similar patterns. We forget that sitting down at a table and sharing a meal matters more than hitting the midnight sales at Wal-Mart.
Today, when your child arrives home from school, talk to him. Step away from the computer and sit with her on the couch and listen to her day. Put away the cell phone and play a game of cards or Monopoly.
Most of all, hug your child and tell him you love him. Not only today, but every day.
We grieve for the families who lost loved ones today. Our thoughts and hearts are with them. If we could, we would take this pain away.
But we can’t.