This week as I gazed upon my Christmas tree, I cried a river of tears for the victims, their families and their friends who are faced which such a tragic loss at this time. My tree has an angel on the top, she’s a beautiful angel with a porcelain head, pretty wings and dress made of netting. She’s holding two candles and a light from within makes her glow. I grew up with a star on our Christmas tree. As I recall it was a fairly cheesy looking thing too with tinsel and colored lights. When I was old enough to get my own Christmas tree, I used a star at first something similar to the one I grew up with.
The angel came about by perhaps divine intervention. I had stumbled upon a late night Christmas movie, The Bishop’s Wife starring David Niven, Cary Grant and Loretta Young. It’s a fabulous classic Christmas movie and as late as it was that night sucked me in immediately. Cary Grant plays an angel in the movie sent down to help David Niven who plays the Bishop.
The movie originally came out in 1947 shortly after WWII. It was a time when many were trying to rebuild their post-war lives and their was still a great need for stories of nostalgia, hope and faith. Our world is vastly different than it was in 1947, but the need for stories of hope and faith are just as great today if not more. Today’s world is a very frightening place where we are no longer safe at college, a movie theater, a mall or even a elementary school. A tragedy of the magnitude of Sandy Hook brings people together. It touches so many people beyond the victims and their families because most everyone has been a first grader at some point, or are a parent who has sent their children off to school, or may have a teacher in their family and because of this all wonder my god what if that had been me, or my child, or my sister or mother?
The pain and grief I have felt this week is eerily similar to the way I felt after 9/11. I was born and raised in New York City which caused me to feel the attack on my birthplace as very personal. A friend’s husband lost his life that day and many of my friends who worked in the financial district had been devastated by their experiences of what they witnessed and tales of escaping the city. I knew our world would never be the same after that. Misuse of religion, power, box cutters and airplanes caused that tragic day. In Newtown, Connecticut a young man who was mentally ill killed his mother because he was afraid she was going to have him committed. He decided to misuse three guns and because of it there are now 26 new angels who no longer walk this earth.
Shortly after reading this news it reminded me of the Boomtown Rats song, “I Don’t Like Mondays”. In 1979, Brenda Spenser shot 9 people, 2 adults and 7 children from her house which was across the street from her home.
The silicon chip inside her head gets switched to overload
And nobody’s gonna go to school today
She’s gonna make them stay at home….
The more things change the more they stay the same it seems.
I don’t consider myself to be a very religious person. I was not raised in a religious household. I do not go to church regularly. I used to be a “submarine church goer”, only surfacing at Christmas and Easter – but eventually stopped doing that since it felt hypocritical. However, I silently speak with the Lord and Jesus Christ regularly – at times before bed, sometime in the car or while traveling on a plane. I do have hopes, dreams and wishes for myself, my children, my loved-ones. I try very hard to have faith in myself that I continue to raise my two children safely in this very frightening and dangerous world. I hope and pray that somehow they will be able to raise their own children one day in a world which hopefully will have learned some lessons from the past and changed it course not to repeat the fateful mistakes.
Life is filled with challenging moments. The holidays are a time when people are supposed to be happy; making it a thousand times harder for those who are not. The last eight years I have been divorced and forced to share time with my kids on holidays or not see them at all. The pain the first Christmas day that I had to say goodbye to them in the morning and watch them drive off with their father was agonizing for me. I felt like a part of me had been ripped away and I just wanted to cry all day and stay under the covers of my bed. Instead I was supposed to go to my parent’s house to share Christmas dinner with my parents, my siblings and their kids. It was awful. I think one holiday I actually did stay home and wallow in my self-pity. The rest, somehow I found the strength to join the festivities despite my broken heart. As the years have marched on holidays remain challenging, although each year a little less so. I have been blessed these last two years for I have been able to share them with my new love, my boyfriend, Mark.
Life goes on and time helps to heal most of the wounds which have been inflicted on us. The scars left on us by life should be worn on us with pride for they help make up who we are and how we came to be there. Some people’s scars are bigger than others and some may have wounds that never fully heal; for how can someone every fully heal from the lose of their own child?
It’s three days before Christmas and I will close my thoughts with a speech the Bishop gives to his congregation Christmas morning reminding us to remember what Christmas is all about.
Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.
Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.
But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. Its his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.
Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shinning gifts that make peace on earth.
“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” Winnie the Pooh
Peace – Xine S.