This week two years ago, I specifically baked a big batch of gingerbread cookies for the undecorated Christmas tree we had just set up (only the little white lights made it up). I liked the idea of making each cookie unique, so I cut them into various snowflake forms and sizes, and decorated them so no two would be alike (as in the real thing).

The following day, the unthinkable happened. The tragic mass shooting at our Sandy Hook Elementary School turned our beautiful peaceful community into a nightmare. I will always remember exactly where I was when I heard the news unfold, and the shock that turned into profound sadness and numbness. Proceeding with the holidays was virtually impossible; there was no holiday spirit to be had.

So it was the week before Christmas, and there stood our beautiful, yet naked Christmas tree in the middle of our hub, with boxes of ornaments stacked high, unopened and untouched. The tray of 2-dozen or so iced gingerbread snowflakes still sitting on the old farmhouse table, in the same spot I had left them over a week ago. Something nudged me to find some string and start hanging them on the tree. And slowly I did – with great care, placing each one onto the end of a branch or into a nook that showed them off beautifully.

When all the snowflakes were hung, I plugged in the tree, and stood back. The simple beauty of the snowflake cookies and the twinkling white lights was just so perfect. This pretty little tree stayed this way until a day or so before Christmas when as a family, together we added only the most precious and beloved family heirloom ornaments…a reminder of what Christmas was really all about.

Love, Nora

  • I too live and raise my son in Newtown. I was so glad that in December 2012 we had, uncharacteristically, put up our tree early. If It hadn’t been finished before the 14th, I don’t know if I would have had the emotional energy to do it, Thanks for sharing your poignant memory, I hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas in 2014.

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