Every year, I go on a mission in search of an ornament for our Christmas tree. Sometimes it's easy to find one because it's baby's first Christmas or the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl. Other times, I'm looking for something to hang in memory of a loved one - the candy cane representing my dad, who handed out the red and white treats to coworkers and friends during the holidays. For the last three years, a silver locomotive hangs on the tree in honor of my father-in-law, a collector of model trains.
This year, however, was a bit of a struggle. Each time I went out looking for something to fit the theme I had chosen on a whim, Victorian, I came home empty-handed.
With time running out, I checked one last store. Their supply was pretty depleted but they had tons of small, Victorian-style books wrapped in plastic. Unable to select one from the variety of options, I broke my only-one-new-ornament-per-year rule, and chose two. One has the nativity scene on it and the other has St. Nick on the front cover. Once home, I unwrapped each ornament and discovered blank pages inside. In one book, each member of my family wrote a little something that meant something special to them. In the other book, the one with St. Nick, is a list of children's names writtan in gold ink. Daniel, 7, wants to grow up to be a fireman. There's also little Jessica; she asked Santa for cowgirl boots and hat for Christmas this year. I don't know these kids or the 24 other names I have written down on each page, but they are all very special to me.
Like the rest of the nation, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Conn. As a mother, I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like for the parents who lost their children that day. This is one of those moments in life where nothing one can say or do will help turn back time and bring those kids home to their families where they belong. Instead, they went to school one morning and became angels much too soon.
While the rest of the world goes on with their daily lives, the parents of those little 6- and 7-year-olds might think that their children will be forgotten by the rest of us. But, I want them to know that every December there will be a family 1,000 miles away decorating their tree for the holidays. Along with the candy cane and the silver locomotive ornaments there will be a small Victorian book containing the names of 20 children and 6 adults who will never, ever be forgotten.