By Ginger Truitt
Once upon a time there was a mother of many children, but she did not live in a shoe. She lived in a comfy old farmhouse on the outskirts of town. To her, Christmas has always been the most wonderful time of year!
As luck would have it, her birthday fell five days before Christmas in 1969. Her parents gave her Noel as a middle name, and the nurses tucked her into a stocking when they sent her home on Christmas Eve. Growing up, the holiday season held not only the excitement of visiting her beloved grandparents for a week, but also of turning another year older. What child can’t wait to turn six, or 10, or 13? Especially, when it seems the whole world is glistening with decorations, and celebrating along with you?
It seemed every magical moment of life happened during the holiday season, even becoming engaged to the man of her dreams. Every year she anticipates Christmas, and revels in each and every detail of both the big celebrations, and the small day-to-day moments: sipping hot chocolate while decorating the tree, attending church Christmas programs, and baking cookies for the guests that will be stopping in to celebrate the season.
But this year is different. The happiness and joy is overshadowed by a tragedy so intense that her heart finds it difficult to rejoice. How can she celebrate when so many mothers and fathers are experiencing such sorrow and pain? Connecticut is a long way from her comfy old farmhouse, but the cold fingers of grief quickly reached deep into her heart.
Two of her children are the ages of those that were lost in the tragedy; beautiful, innocent, precious babes that fill the house with joy and laughter. It seems as though she cannot hold them close enough. She can’t stop staring into their sweet little faces. She is seeing them through new eyes. She had become so accustomed to their day-to-day activities that she hardly noticed the little things anymore. But now, she is acutely aware of every movement and every word that tumbles from their lips. How does a mother go on when those movements and words are abruptly, brutally brought to an end?
Eventually, life will return to normal for those not directly affected by the tragedy. The grief and shock will fade, and the Christmas joy will return. But for 26 families in Connecticut, Christmas will never be the same. The mom in the farmhouse vows to cherish each moment with her children, and never again take them for granted, for “once upon a time” stories don’t always end with happily ever after.
Ginger is an author, speaker and mother of five. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.