I love the Christmas season. I love everything about it. I enjoy good food, catching up with friends and spending time with family. I love giving gifts. I start shopping months in advance. Of course, I don’t finish that early. No, I will usually finish up at the last minute like most Americans. But I do start early. Surely, I can get some credit for that. I am especially looking forward to this Christmas. My daughter is 17 months old and starting to figure out there is something fun in most of those boxes wrapped in paper. I could watch her playing in the wrapping paper and throwing bows for hours.
I also love the holiday traditions. I have spent 33 Christmas days at my grandmother’s house. Luckily, my wife, Heather, doesn’t have a long-standing Christmas Day tradition. So on Dec. 25, I will be at my grandmother’s in Valliant, Okla. for my 34th Christmas Day. I am known for the post Christmas lunch nap. We usually eat, visit and open presents. Afterward, I slip away to one of the guest bedrooms for a short siesta.
But this year, things will be little different. No, I don’t expect my routine to change. Heather, Addisyn and I will caravan across Oklahoma visiting with our family. But I will take time to enjoy things more. When my grandmother greets us at Christmas, I’ll hold her in a hug for a little longer. Maybe I’ll fight off that nap a few more minutes to enjoy loved ones just a little while longer. I might call some of my friends to see if they want to get our families together. Heather and I take turns laying down with Addisyn at bedtime. I can promise you that I will stare at her a few more minutes as she falls asleep. I’ll think about how blessed we are to have this beautiful, happy girl in our lives.
And I will remember. I will remember and reflect on the 20 children who were killed last week at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. I will think about their parents. I will pray for all of their families and friends. I will pray for the families of the teachers and school administrators who died while doing their best to protect innocent children. I will pray that one day we will be able to stop such senseless and tragic violence. I will pray that God protects my own family.
Like most Americans, my heart hurts for all of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. But as a parent, I anguish most for the parents. I am an emotional person. I always have been. I get attached to animals, neighborhoods, places of employment and everything else. I love my family and friends. But I never knew a love as deep as the love I felt on July 1, 2011 when Heather and I welcomed our first child. A beautiful little girl that gave new meaning to our lives. I don’t even want to consider how I would continue on if something happened to her.
I know there is little that can be said or done to comfort the families of the 20 boys and girls who were killed last week. No words will provide relief to the spouses, children or loved ones of the seven adult victims either. So I will remember and honor those victims by taking a few more minutes to enjoy the important things this Christmas. Things like hugs from my grandmother, precious moments with my wife and daughter, fellowship with family and friends. In my own special way, I will be honoring all 27 victims of last week’s tragedy. I sincerely hope you are able to do the same!
Merry Christmas to the Bearcat Nation from the Baker Family!