Moments: On Christmas, Mourning, and Family

Hark! My angel :)

Hark! My angel 🙂

Yesterday I went Christmas shopping and had Man Child, Nerd Child, and Flower Child decorate the tree. It all had to be done, and I just didn’t feel like it. I am rarely “on top of” the Christmas shopping.  I always swear I will budget for it throughout the year, shop early, but usually, I’m scrambling, same as I’m doing now. I wondered why I do this at all, do Christmas presents even make any sense? This is the first year where I only have one child in school this week before Christmas, both boys are on break already.  Great! Except it feels like the school knows this, and therefore ramped up the extras so I can still spend my week running on empty from obligation to obligation.

I’m feeling umm, off balance since the shooting in Newtown CT on Friday. I stand by my statement from my last post, it didn’t make any sense and it still doesn’t.  If anything, I’m more confused than I was 4 days ago. What does this level of grief mean for our nation?  How much is personal, for the families and immediate community, and how much is ours, as a society, to take on? Where’s the line between sharing the burden of grief and glamorizing a heinous act? People are talking, and I hope they continue to do so.  Much of the talk is bluster and rhetoric, I can toe that crap to the side without a problem.  But I’ve also seen the beginnings of thoughtful discourse, with points and possibilities that should be explored. I am not a historian, and don’t know what was intended by the 2nd Amendment, or the correct way to apply it, if at all, in today’s society.

We are a nation of freedoms. With freedom comes responsibility.  Or in the plain English of Fringeland, the freedom to fuck up.  This is what, in my opinion, we should be talking about.  Personal responsibilities and how they apply to our families, our communities, our society.  I think, long ago, this used to be called ethics. But no, I don’t have a romanticized vision of the way things “used to be.” The reality is there are other atrocities that no longer occur here, are no longer legal or acceptable, that once were.

I ran around yesterday, my very best chicken without a head routine.  At the end of the day, I went to walk a dog. This dog’s owners have become friends, and are two people I respect and admire tremendously.  Man Child came with me, and though I’ve known them a few years now, this was the first time they were meeting. A moment.  In the midst of these days heavy with both bullshit and mourning, a moment of beauty.  I like these friends very much, they live their lives with integrity, and embody lives well lived. Another, newer friend recently met Nerd Child.  Another beautiful moment.  I like my children, they are thoughtful human beings and define possibilities. One has a strong sense of duty, immediate responsibilities. One has a keen instinctive eye for looking at the greater good, seems to have been born with the scales of justice connecting the chambers of his heart. One has an exquisite sense of social justice, crying at the thought of anyone being hungry. They have their own thoughts and opinions, separate from mine, Husband’s, and each other.

I don’t think I’ve hit on the purpose or meaning of life, as a parent or otherwise. I hold no answers, and as I get older, find more questions. As a parent, I want my children to believe in themselves and strive for their dreams, achieving some.  I want them to be responsible, contributing members of society. I want their dreams to include being responsible, contributing members of society. I want them to have their moments, hopefully more than I do, but still, moments when they can take a breath and say, “this is ok. I am ok.”

Personal moments aren’t enough to put aside the greater questions we need to examine and try to answer. They do not, can not, and should not negate loss, personal or public. Personal loss does not negate community or societal obligations. But if we value these moments, and recognize them because of their potential impact on others, they can matter.


lint (Photo credit: freebeets)



  1. I hope you are ok, on a personal level. I have had to stop watching the news have started scanning BBC news online. grief like this could be overwhelming. Having lost a much younger brother I know on some levels the loss of a baby. I know too as much as my heart could cry a river and it’s had a good go, over the horrors in Newtown, I know too we all have a time to grieve, personally, loved ones and while as a nation the us must and surely will do all it can to never let another baby die this way again, it is not our time to grieve. It is not our loss.
    Terrible bad things happen to each of us in a lifetime, we have to grasp the moments they are not happening with both hands and suck every last sip of joy out of it. It’s Christmas soon, I hope you can find it in your heart to put the cares of the world aside and celebrate with your loved ones x


    1. Thank you, Fay. I know I will be ok.

      I feel mixed. Yes, this isn’t specifically my loss, but. But but but. It is a loss that should be addressed by the greater community of our country.

      Yes, many terrible things occur in each of our lives (and I am very sorry to hear of the loss of your brother), some seem to get more of their share than others. I believe that because of personal experience of just a few of the many, many things that are out of our control and can go wrong, we all need to have our eyes open. Not fearful and barricaded, but eyes open. Enjoy the moments, the season, but if we can understand and accept there is no 1 reason that this happened, we need to understand there isn’t room for “not my kid.” Anyone’s kid can fall victim to crime or illness, mental illness, bad luck, bad influences, who knows? Maybe bad karma. I don’t know any of the families who lost loved ones on Friday, but I know there wasn’t one who thought their child or family member wasn’t coming home that afternoon, and I include the mother of the shooter in that assumption.

      I do wish you every joy and peace of the season, and will indeed treasure the moments. ❤


      1. A lot of what you describe I lived with since Jon died an awareness of our mortality and that of our babies, an awareness of all the evil of the world that could visit your door. its tough raising a baby knowing the last one you loved died. It takes a leap of hope to say the least but in order to really live it has to be done.


  2. Very thoughtful post. I totally get where you are – I had to just shut off the news and the debate. I’m backing off Facebook for a couple of days too. I wonder when will the time come when we can just let that community grieve in private – the loss of a generation of children still boils down to someone’s personal loss of an individual child. I worry that the grief is theirs and we are intruding – if that makes sense. I also think we need to think about personal responsibility as a nation, but maybe we need to give it some time – let the families who live this tragedy have the time to grieve and move on.


    1. Aargh! I typed out a long response, and somehow lost it. I have the same concerns as you, but also worry that the concept of backing off to let the community grieve privately will translate to burying our heads back in the sand until the next time–leaving the radical, no compromise/no education no-No-NO of the extremes as the only voices to be heard.


      1. I hate it when that happens 🙂

        I get that too and I think we shouldn’t bury our heads in the sand. This morning I got a newsletter from a friend who is in a place paralyzed by grief – anytime she sees a child she loses it. She is non-functional. She is stuck and this tragedy is defining her – so I am concerned from that perspective. These children were not hers and she has no personal connection except our shared grief. I am listening closely and her grief has become about her, she has given into the pressure to feel so deeply that she has shut out her own life. This worries me.

        I do think we must look at some tough questions in the light of these events, if not we are doomed to see more of the same. I’m not advocating that we forget now that we are in a new news cycle at all. I think these things can and must be a catalyst for dialogue and change. The extremes are going to sound off no matter what – at this moment in time they look pretty thoughtless IMO.


        1. I am so sorry to hear about your friend. In all honesty, it sounds like she’s channeling something else, either within her or in her life, through this tragedy.
          I fear for what’s to come if we don’t soon hear some voices of reason over the fray.


  3. Yes I understand that fear, The media being what it is will tire so soon. The people who have suffered this tragic loss will still be in deep shock for months yet. you can’t really hurt or harm them more than has already been done, if anything a collective moarning will comfort them. In the memory of these Children I think it’s worth pushing on.


  4. I’ve read this entry a few times and tried to reply and it’s been so hard to come up with the right words to convey how I feel. I feel shellshocked inside to a certain degree still and find it hard to articulate very well. I do find the idea of the “collective mourning” for this community’s massive loss interesting and somewhat comforting to them. I like that.

    That community is not moving on anytime in the foreseeable future. To add insult to injury they haven’t even been able to begin the healing without threats, their first vigil/Mass was interrupted with threats and the church had to be evacuated. Some of the children returned to school today… and the school received threats.

    We’ve seen impact at all three of our schools already in security protocols. Two police cars with flashing lights were in front of the high school today when I picked up my son at dismissal. An armed policeman stands at the front door now. What would happen if I tried to go in during school hours without calling first like they told me I needed to do now? I haven’t asked my son. My middle and grammar school kids learned about new security measures. So it’s not just grieving on a wide scale… It’s impact on children everywhere when a new realization of vulnerability makes itself known. That feeling of fear/vulnerability has such a powerful impact on us as adults, but I really hate how that affects the children.


    1. Yes, we had to adjust to very different, heightened security everywhere in the city after 9/11. I don’t know that it makes me feel any safer, but it always makes me nervous.
      It is too, too much, and yet what’s already done, these losses, must be absorbed.


  5. I think you need a hug. Sending you a big virtual one. I am experiencing the same kinds of emotions and sense of imbalance. Collective mourning may lead to productive and meaningful dialogue. Maybe. It’s my wish this Christmas. So thoughtful… Take care of you.


    1. Thank you ❤ I'm still hoping for meaningful dialogue, but I'm skeptical. Too many only want sound bites, and let's face it, rational and moderate doesn't make for a good meme.


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