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December 21, 2012

On The Rebound: Seeking the spirit of Christmas past

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Last week a child went to sleep in the lap of her mother with her hair being stroked softly. The child cried herself to sleep, not understanding how someone could take the lives of 26 innocent people.

There is no answer. We can blame guns, games, or insanity. We can shelter our children and take them to church, but eventually they will be in the reach of someone that could have malice in their heart. We cannot live without putting ourselves in harm’s way. If you secluded yourself from everyone, live life in a shell, you aren’t living much anyway. So what is the point?

I picture the parents of the 20 children in Newtown, Conn., taking down the Christmas tree and unstringing the lights. The presents they purchased with so much love and anticipation of a child unwrapping will be put away. If they find the strength, some might give the presents to another child because  there will be no Christmas in those homes this year. There will never be another Christmas that they hold as dear as the ones that have passed.

The evening of the shooting, I took my children to grandma’s house. As we walked in the door she pulled them close and cried so hard it almost lifted them to their toes. They wanted to know what was wrong with grandma. She was scared. Scared that as she sees her granddaughters mature they are stepping further into a world that can be cold and cruel. They will not be raised in a time when neighbor helped neighbor. My children have never slept a night with the front door unlocked and the windows open. Eating around the dinner table has become a special event instead of a requirement. People are too busy, too stressed, and too disconnected.

Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey took a moment after his team played to express his feelings on recent events. He spoke from his heart the most important words he will ever say after a basketball game. First he mentioned how lucky he was to be able to go home that night and hug his children.

“I didn’t vote for President Obama — but you know what? He’s my president now. He’s my leader. I need him to step up. Mr. Boehner, the Speaker of the House, he’s a Xavier guy, he’s a Cincinnati guy. He needs to step up. Parents, teachers, rabbis, priests, coaches — everybody needs to step up. This has to be a time for change,” Kelsey said.

We do not all have the ability or the reach to change the world, but if someone had reached out for Adam Lanza would we be having this discussion today?

We all have influence over someone, either positive or negative. Until we truly get back to caring about each other, put aside differences political and otherwise, we will continue to tumble down this slope. That is not a world anyone wants to live in.

mhoward@sentinel-echo.com

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