I suppose no one feels much like blogging this week, waxing poetic on the endless errands and the unfinished wrapping. I know my heart isn’t in it. My hands have sat idle at the keyboard, which sits adjacent to my fireplace. I passed a friend who asked if I was going to blog the ornaments I bought at the Christkindlmarket. Oh yeah…that. The 5 ornaments I was so excited to add to my mantel, which seemed so very important just one week ago.
And I thought perhaps I should take some pictures. It is Christmas, after all. The house is turned upside down. The girls are reacting poorly to the upheaval. They are restless and journey proud, and have no idea the entire country is mourning. There are cookies and ribbons and laundry in every corner of the house. It looks like Christmas. But it feels like we’ve hit a pause button. Nothing is moving while our brains try to understand the unimaginable.
As I snapped the photos, it struck me I bought ornaments with scenes of children. After mourning those little faces on the news, I found myself mourning the loss of innocence today. That humanity is so deeply flawed. That no matter how many guns we add or take away, or guards we pay, or doctors and therapists we add to the national roster, in the end, humans have the capacity for evil, even if it is by virtue of a broken psyche.
We’ll change everything or nothing, never really knowing why it happened. We’ll send our kids to school, feeling a little less secure, just as we had to get on that airplane for the first time some 11 odd years ago. We looked into the eyes of those seated near us, passing the subconscious message that we are Americans, united in one mind; we communicated an understanding that we’d protect each other and stand together in the face of peril. Those same glances were passed this week between parents and teachers, because how does one put into the words the unfailing belief that any of our teachers would have laid down their lives to protect our children? With a faith which defies logic, I know our teachers would. I live in speechless gratitude for the work they do on a normal day, let alone the shocking Friday when I realized they would save my child’s life if at all possible.
I remember standing underneath the bright red and white striped awning at the market during that first weekend in December, well past dark, a warm spiced cider in my hand, picking up this ornament last. I was drawn to it, but I said to the artisan, “Do you find it odd this little girl is an angel? Shouldn’t she just be a little girl, underneath a Christmas tree? Why is she an angel in her nightgown? But it’s so beautiful. I have little girls. Is it painted on both sides?” I remember he smiled broadly, and said in a beautifully rich German accent, “Oh yes, they are all painted on both sides.” I said, “Oh good. I need it to spin. Hmm…OK, the angel it is.”
And someday, many, many years from now, when my own girls learn this tragedy happened in their lifetime, I can imagine them coming home from history class and asking me:
Girls: But Momma, why didn’t you tell us?
Momma: Because the little children were your exact age when it happened. You were too young to understand, only in 1st Grade and Kindergarten. It would have scared you so much.
Girls: Did you cry?
Momma: Every day, but never in front of you. I turned off the news and radio, and threw away the papers. You had both just learned to read, and were trying to decipher everything you could get your hands on.
Girls: Wait…what happened that Christmas? Wasn’t that the year our Godparents gave us the Barbie Dream House?
Momma: Yes, that was the year. It was also the year I hung the little girl angel over the fireplace. The angel who was supposed to have just been a little girl, under her Christmas tree…