It is not worth the death of children, one child, to remind us to be good to our own. I do not want to be forced to think that every interaction with my kids could be my last. Any conscious person knows this. To extract that reminder from slaughter—I reject it. We should treat our dear ones well, even with the expectation that our lives together will be long and rich.
And we must allow ourselves to be cranky, to be not perfect. Not to be small, but to be true.
My daughter pesters me about Christmas shopping. As always, I am finishing up a semester and am exhausted. Walking around a mall is the last thing I want to do. I think of the mall in Portland where shoppers were gunned down, Christmas shopping.
And Monday I have to send her to school.
We decide to go, nevertheless. My youngest comes with me, my oldest with my husband, and we look for gifts for the other pair. We point out things we might want for ourselves, knowing we will switch pairs later in the evening.
We have a surprisingly good time. Somehow I let go of the pressures of work. And we skipped the mall; we went to town, our funky New England town, so much nicer.
Still, I look for crazy people with guns. Out of the corner of my eye, I look between the prosperous shoppers, the smiling families.
I do not see anyone who looks insane. In fact, I see much contentment, no sign of the holiday stress you hear so much about.
I hear a boy’s peals of laughter. A girl’s bubbly excitement as she chooses her sister’s gift. I see six and seven-year-olds, alive and with their families.
I do not see the grief that surely lies under all this happiness, the day after Newtown.
I do not need to be reminded. If I am uncivil to my children, I make sure to apologize or explain before they go away or I go away. I do not need a slaughter to remind me.
The world gives us many slaughters. We do not need any more reminders.
Perhaps I enjoy my family this evening because I have one, and I know it is a gift. I do not allow my crankiness or exhaustion to get in the way.
But I do not want any more reminders.