My Christmas card this year is a picture of my kids, taken while we were on vacation this summer, and it reads “I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you, and I think to myself, ‘what a wonderful world.’” The cards have been sitting on my counter and although stamped and addressed, I haven’t been able to bring myself to send them out; it just doesn’t feel like a “wonderful world” anymore and it’s hard to keep Christmas as we normally would.
I cried when I made the cards because the Louie Armstrong quote that I chose fit my feelings so perfectly. I am often overwhelmed by the soulful beauty of my children. This is because I know that my children do not belong to me. They aren’t “mine” at all, but a gift from God that he has trusted me to care for during their time on this earth. At the time of His choosing, my children will return to Him. My time with them is a gift; it is not to be expected.
This is why I cry at Sophia’s soccer games, her plays, her school programs, and at the many of the wonderful things she does and sometimes, even at the very ordinary. She recently gave a speech to raise money for her camp, and it was emotional for me to see the lady she is becoming- poised, confident, kind. I just have to look at Savas’s face to know that this child was a gift; an unexpected surprise for me at age forty but born healthy and perfect and with an infectious smile and laugh. It’s easy for people who know us to think my emotion comes from being so grateful that my daughter survived a terminal illness and that is certainly true. But that’s only half the story. Much of my emotion often comes from the fact that I am so grateful that I am able to be truly present with my children in every moment that I’m with them, and that I take nothing from granted.
The parents and families of Newtown have not only had their children taken from them, they have also been denied the opportunity to comfort and be with them in the face of their fear and suffering. So much has been taken from them. We cry for these parents, imagine their pain, and in remembrance, hug our kids tighter and longer. Today I read a post on facebook where a friend, talking about his love for his children, wrote “I hope I don’t forget how I feel today”. Much like the aftermath of events of 9/11, at some point, we have to trust our schools, our law enforcement, and the world and public around us and allow life resume its normal course. Once that happens, it’s easy to let how we feel today take a place further back in our minds, and let the rhythm of our day take the forefront. Today’s feelings can evaporate over time and leave behind a thin veil that we only think of from time to time. My wish is that we keep these feelings alive in our hearts.
So, upon reflection, my Christmas card will get sent out tomorrow and it will mean something that I didn’t anticipate when I made it. It’s no longer about my personal little wonderful world with my own two children, it’s about ALL of our children- yours and mine. We are lucky to be able to walk among them, and be their parents, their friends, their aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, coaches, and neighbors. They are our wonderful world. We have a responsiblity to love them completely. The twenty new angels in heaven have given us a “chance and hope” to keep our feelings of today alive; in their honor and for their sacrifice, I pray that as we go forward, we don’t have a day where we forget.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
-Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol.”