By Deb Baer Becker
Every December my husband and my all-grown-up-kids drag me to the movies to see the latest holiday blockbuster. As much as I love family traditions, I try to weasel out of this one. Yes, there were times when family movie night was a welcome respite from the holiday hullabaloo. I enjoyed the escape to the picture show: eating a bucket of salted, buttered popcorn, relaxing in a comfortable chair. But ever since that movie theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado, I sit in my theater seat, restless, sipping soda in the flickering darkness, and silently profiling every single person in the room. If someone has a tote bag or a backpack, they’re on my radar.
These days, I’m as cautious and wary as any prey animal.
Now we are, all of us, soft targets. School, church, work, the mall, the movies, on campus, dancing at a club, concerts: we can’t go without an exit strategy! Hell, I feel a bit tense at Target. Maybe it’s the name.
I come to this issue from so many perspectives that my thoughts get all knotted up. I’m a Mom, a military veteran, and a cancer survivor. But I think my new role, Grandmother, has cleared up my perspective. Baby smiles purify the heart.
I spend most of my days caring for my grandbaby Violet, and shushing my damned darling dogs from barking when she’s napping. I’m one of her daytime caregivers, but I think of myself as her guide to the world.
On sunny days I put Violet in her stroller, round up the dogs, and we all go for a walk. When we pass under the canopy of trees by our driveway, Violet looks up in amazement. Maybe she’s intrigued by the leaf-patterned blue sky or maybe she just loves trees. We visit our Texas neighborhood’s winter violas and pansies. I pick one of each and tell her, these flowers are from the violet family. I hand her these things of Nature and together we marvel at these small wonders of our world. Babies keep life simple and wholesome.
Maybe we can put the guns down and pick up our children. I’m hoping Americans will come together to end this violence. Despair says, “Nothing will change.” Such dark thoughts won’t spark this year’s much needed holiday cheer.
But we will have a Merry Christmas anyway. We’ll roll out the twinkle and sparkle for Violet’s first Christmas. One of her gifts will be a donation I made in her name to Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions political action committee.
I will, once again, cave to the family’s pressure to go see a movie, if it’s the new Star Wars flick. We will gather and be grateful for our love for each other, and pray to that greatest Love who lights the darkness and heals the sorrows of our world.