I’m always a little sad by Christmas afternoon. The tree will stay up another week, the same with the lights outside, but I have to be honest; rather than serve as low wattage, multi-colored beacons for the hope that Christmas brings, they become reminders that the day has passed and won’t be around again for another year.
For me, a divorced father, it is particularly hard to come home after delivering my young sons back to their mother after Christmas dinner. When I re-enter the house and see the carnage of paper and boxes, strewn every which way, my heart sinks for a moment as I remember the excitement of the children that occupied that very space only an hour earlier.
Even though they got under my skin at one point (seriously, why is it my fault that they lost the power cord?) and I thought to myself, “I can’t WAIT to take you back to your mother!” my true compass always points back to my other-worldly love for them.
My blue funk was compounded when I noticed the stockings, hung by the chimney (with care) and I thought to myself, “No point in leaving those up there.”
So, I took them down, only to realize that stuffed into the bottom of the middle one, belonging to my son Alexander, was a gift card to Target that he never discovered. In a flash was a mixture of melancholy and mischief. I missed the excitement he would have shown for a $25 spending spree, but simultaneously I had a devilish idea. He doesn’t know about this…I could buy razors….and The Bourne Legacy…(Okay! I’ll give it to him!).
In the past month we have seen the one year remembrances of the tragic loss of Lyric and Elizabeth from Evansdale and the Sandy Hook horror. I’ve been searching for hope and I’ve welcomed the discussions many of us have had concerning the state of America and where we are heading, and which ways we should. The climate of sorrow greatly affected my view of the holidays again this year, but as the year draws to a close the purpose which should unite us becomes clear.
Lyric and Elizabeth, and the 20 children of Newtown were happy and safe once too, and circumstances that none of them, their parents or their teachers could have foreseen or controlled, robbed them of those precious rights- but therein lies the purpose I have been seeking as 2013 ends and I look for resolutions for 2014.
We can resolve to commemorate ALL of our children, those who have been taken from us and those that we can hold in our arms, by creating new standards of awareness concerning respect and how we, as adults, treat each other. Think back on the anger that results from politics- Can we really be surprised that America creates violence when we can’t even disagree on where the public sewer drain should be located without calling each other names?
We don’t want armed guards in schools, we want schools where we don’t need armed guards.
We don’t need more households to buy guns to feel safe, we need to divert violence away from innocent people and diffuse the energies that create it.
Easier said than done, right? This is not going to be easy; it is hard work, just like marriage, just like our careers, just like raising our children. But those are things that we are all willing to do to reach a better end. It is work we seek even when there are heartbreaks, hurdles and hell to deal with. Having a more rational and reasonable discourse is going to be that kind of work, but we must have it.
There are sources out there with sound statistics and we need to be sharing accurate information about firearms, the good and the bad of them. If we want to be idealistic we need to start by being realistic.
And there’s good news! There are people and organizations already in place who want to help.
The NRA isn’t going away, so I ask my friends who stand against them (as I have), to learn more about the National Rifle Association, its past and present and its original purpose. The NRA has the most extensive instruction programs available for the use and responsibilities that come with guns. http://training.nra.org/nra-gun-safety-rules.aspx
Also, investigate facts about gun violence. http://www.bradycampaign.org/?q=about-gun-violence
Mental Health America is an organization that deserves our attention and needs our help. They are working to improve our understanding of, and to alleviate, mental health afflictions. Go to http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/mission-vision and I think you’ll be impressed.
So…I come back to where I began…I’m sad as I stand in my foyer looking back to where my children played only a few hours ago, but I am full of a new resolve to bring in the New Year with a deliberate mission to make us stronger, wiser, safer and more full of joy.
Happy New Year, Friends!