I planned to write about Christmas today. Specifically, what I want for Christmas.
But it doesn't seem right when that's not at all what caught my attention this week. What's in my head and my heart, on my Facebook feed and Twitter stream, in my inbox and in so many conversations I have had is the horrors and devastation from the Newtown, Connecticut shootings of last Friday.
So in remembrance of the lives lost -- many of whom are being buried this week -- I found a few articles I want to share. You may have read them already. But in case you have not, these are what caught my attention this week.
1. Firstly, President Obama's press speech. Some cynics claim he was faking tears. All I know is that half of North America was in tears watching him speak last Friday -- including me. Consider his alternative. Should he stand there all strong and statesman-like and tell everyone it's going to be OK? It's not going to be OK until the shootings stop. It's not going to be OK until parents across North America feel safe taking their children to school every morning and the teachers can confidently tell them they are safe. I would cry if I were him.
2. A mommy blogger, Liza Long, became national news with this popular follow-up post that went viral immediately as she addresses the issue of mental illness as one of the causes of this tragedy. She effectively raises awareness of the need to discuss mental illness at a national level with this piece, which was printed and posted on multiple news and publishing properties across North America. What makes it so effective is the way she humanizes the shooter by telling her own personal story of living in fear with a potentially dangerous person -- who she loves. The post did garner controversy but she achieved what she set out to do.
3. On a practical note for parents, there is the question about talking to your kids about the shooting. From what I read, some parents of young children were not planning to say anything -- until they learned that teachers would be wearing black armbands on Monday, so there would be talk of it at school. Here's a post from our friend Nadine Silverthorne, managing editor at Today's Parent, that illustrates this dilemma. For more tips from a parenting expert, Alyson Schafer outlines in detail what to say and how to say it.
4. I learned that there are some positive stories that can come out of such a tragic event. I believe that humans are essentially good and want to do the right thing. Our strong desire to reach out and help the people of Newtown is being felt across the country. That's why the petition to sign the Sandy Hook Elementary School National Sympathy Card has reached over two-million signatures already. That's also why a man from California called a local coffee shop/general store and paid for everyone's coffee in town. There are more stories like this. I found them in this post on CafeMom. These acts of human kindness are important to read about and share in the wake of such tragedies.
5. Even popular culture reacted with grace. TV shows like The Voice and Saturday Night Live responded appropriately, proving that life -- and the show -- must go on. But it doesn't make it any easier.
There is so much more to say and share on this -- and there will be so much more to come. In the meantime, be sure to hug, smother, get cozy with and enjoy your family this holiday season.
If you celebrate next week, have a very Happy Christmas.