Suddenly last Friday, December 14, within two minutes, twenty children lost their lives,almost twelve days before Christmas.
They were innocent, young, with big dreams and full of life. That Friday would be their another day in school; learning and enjoying the company of their friends and teachers. That the had hugged and kisses their moms and dads. And from nowhere, an alleged gunman bulged into the school and started shooting. Twenty children perished and never had a chance to enjoy Christmas with their classmates and their loved ones. One of the victims was scheduled to perform as an angel in the coming school’s Christmas Pageant. And for sure, some of them had a chance to have picture with Santa Claus.
Such a tragic event happened before the celebration of one of the most important Christian traditions. Such an impact in our daily lives, Christmas lost its meaning and its spirits for a child. Someone had stolen it from their hearts!
Santa Claus is in tears and tries to find the reasons why it happened to his children whose smiles on their faces and glows in their eyes makes him so much loved to travel all over the world to bring tidings, greetings and toys to every child. For Santa Claus, his list will be less twenty beautiful children. Sad and grieving, Santa Claus decides to go and bring joy and happiness to the waiting child on Christmas Eve.
And we. as parents, are numbed. No words could describe the horror of the event; and the lurking fears in going to school. The paranoia settled in into our psyche that it might happen to us, or to anybody, or to any school anywhere on earth. And it is too hurting for parents and loved ones not to see their child celebrating Christmas with them. With so much grief, one can feel the severity of loss, the questioning mind why it happened to those young children who are the main reason why Christmas has so much joy and happiness.
Yes, Christmas is for our children.
I could remember how Christmas was very important to me when i was growing in my hometown. Nurtured by strict adherence on savings, I looked forward for Christmas. I had the list of what i wanted for Christmas; and more so, looking forward for the gifts my ninongs and ninangs would give. My sisters and brother would prepare parols and other paper decorations for Christmas. And my mother was getting ready for our noche buena. I loved “arroz de valenciana”, suman and chicken adobo. For me, Christmas is the most important celebration in my life. Lots of food, toys and money. With a child’s instinct, it seemed that we need to receive more than to give. At the “Noche Buena”, we shared the food and joy of Christmas.
And when our two sons were young, they looked forward with so much anticipation and excitements in the coming Christmas. My wife and I would bring our two sons to the shopping mall for Santa’s picture. We would pass by at the toys store to find the best toy at the best price. And on the Christmas eve, we enjoyed going to church together. And during the noche buena, our family joined together for sharing the food. And on the next day, excitements took over as they opened their gifts. And I could see in their eyes, the happiness, the joy, the sparkle and hope: a true picture of a happy and innocent child.
What happened in a small and quiet town of Newtown, Connecticut where the twenty children and six adults lost their lives, I do reflect how life is too short. How life is too fragile against dangers lurking upon us. As parents, we do have the fear of something might happen to our loved ones. Our children are our future.
I lost my reason for a while upon learning the horrific event. I could imagine how a child would face the killer. She or he was so innocent to face the reality in life. In my mind, these words became a litany of hopelessness: ‘ Would I run? Would I call my Mom or Dad? ‘ I could image how a child would die with gunshots, how he or she would fall on a cold floor and helpless and clinging to his or her dearly young life; and i could not imagine the grief of a mother, of a father knowing that his or her child is gone. No one count on how many tears had fallen; how loud was the cry as if nobody would like to be heard; and I could feel as if i were the father of the fallen child. And I am soulfully affected.
And I looked back during my younger years; and i looked back to our sons when they were young children. I looked at them as if there were my children! My children and their children are not different. I closed my eyes. Grief engulfed my whole body. Numbed and tongue-tied as I moved around after leaning the carnage which cut short the lives of young dreamers and the hope of the land. And the child in me shed tears. I silently grieved and prayed.
And for this coming Christmas, remember those young children who lost their lives. Think and feel that their short stary here on earth will make a big difference on how to cherish our young children. Indeed, my children, your children, and those twenty children, they are all our children.
Christmas, this, for reason of joy, is for children, less twenty.