Monday, December 31, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

It's hard to believe another year has is gone. I'm another year older, and hopefully wiser. It's hard to believe my babies are really not babies anymore -- they are 10 and 3 years old. Times, they are a-changin', as Dylan sings.

Every year I sit down and write out the annual Christmas family newsletter. I know how ridiculous the Christmas newsletters can be, and frankly, as I sit down to pen the bragging family accomplishments it feels somewhat snobby and crazy and stupid. But I do it nonetheless, to share with far-away family and friends, and for one other selfish reason: To help me process and log the year. It's a good way to remember all the "good" that happened in our family this year; a way to count our blessings. It's a family history of sorts, and we can look back someday on this year and see where our family was and how blessed we were.

This Christmas season was a different one, to say the least. Every year, I, as well as many others, start with lofty goals. Get the holiday cards out early (I am still sending them out now!). Get the shopping done early (the majority was done early, I guess). Wrap early (didn't happen this year). Etc. etc. Of course, the holiday spirit was interrupted by the sadness in Sandy Hook, which lingered throughout the Christmas holiday. We did many fun things, however, as I look through the pictures, and I will treasure those moments.

Tonight is New Year's Eve, and we will spend a quiet family night at home. We usually watch movies, but Big Girl has asked to watch the "Cake Boss" marathon on TLC, so it looks like we will be watching crazy cakes for the holiday before the ball in Times Square drops.

New years, of course, mean new beginnings. I am hoping that the events in Connecticut earlier this month will shape our society in 2013. I am very pessimistic about this, however: As we move away from Dec. 14, will the memories and lessons be as gnawing and fresh? Will we remember to be kind? To count our blessings? To change? To look more closely at safety and laws and protection of our citizens? To curb knee-jerk reactions into reasonable expectations? To continue 26 Random Acts of Kindess into indefinite acts of kindness? To remember Newtown doesn't need money and teddy bears, but prayers and compassion and help for years to come? To curb materialism and our dependence on technology to just be good human beings to other good human beings?

My father volunteered at a Sandy Hook church last week.
He came home with this card, cross and bracelet.
The card has many hopeful Bible verses to
help one cope with the Newtown tragedy.
I want to be filled with hope. I want to think that most will remember. I had a conversation the other day with a friend about Facebook, about how it was interesting to observe the news feed post-12/14. At first, nothing but sadness and prayers and remembrances and condolences. Then a few days later, regular life crept into the feed -- mostly from non-Connecticut friends. And then, it was mostly back to normal. My friend said she actually had to stop her Facebook usage and hasn't really gone back. She could not read the "normal life" posts when she was so close to the tragedy, so affected by it. I understand her reasoning.

Life does go on after a tragedy, even one as horrific as what happened in Sandy Hook that day. The only hope is that society learns from it. I don't necessarily mean tightening gun control laws or putting armed guards in schools or locking up the mentally insane -- I mean that people learn to stop focusing on what is not important and focus on what is.

That is my hope for 2013. That we come together, stronger, stop judging, put aside pettyness and selfish behavior, stop worrying about what really doesn't matter, and remember, that in the end, all we need is love.

Cherish the New Year's holiday 
with your loved ones!
See you all in 2013!