christmas in connecticut

Trimmed the tree with my beans & niece from Danbury, CT today – making memories…
Tartan Christmas Tree
When spaces are missing, we try to fill them with answers, even when they’re the wrong ones, even when there aren’t any. We begin by saying, “there are no words,” then follow the silence with a muttered declaration that we need to walk, “something needs to change.” This is when the opinions flare up, with talk of God and guns. Separation of church and state, a right to bear arms. A volley of ideas across a dinner table, a white instant messenger screen, the news. Everything starts to resemble the outline for a high school essay, the argumentative essay, about abortion, about capital punishment. Clean lines drawn, crisp, black and white, laced with words like “deterrent” and “desensitization.”

The taxes on a pack of smokes in NYC are $1.01 by the Feds, $4.35 by NYS and $1.50 by NYC. The total taxes are $6.86 per pack or $0.34 per cigarette.
A 100-round box of Winchester 9mm costs $9.99 or $0.10 per bullet.
If the taxes were equivalent, it would quadruple the cost of bullets.

A deterrent, okay. Would it stop crazy from being crazed? Would it cut down the number of violent acts? It dizzies me to play the sides, on something as simple as taxes. To me, it’s a blank space we’re looking to fill, to say we’re at least doing something.

“Can you imagine?” is chased with a heavy detail, the idea of your child’s body still being in a classroom, as you wait in a fire station. And the chase ends abruptly when someone says, “I can’t even.” It comes in rounds, like grief, good moments where you forget, then you awake, and the reality is there in front of you.

Today, we tried to escape reality, watching Christmas in Connecticut. Our niece, in elementary school in Danbury, CT, came to our house to decorate a tree. I made salted caramel hot chocolate. We sang. I looked at the kids longer, studying their profiles, the way a smile spread spontaneously as they watched the television. Innocent delight. I, like everyone else, am deeply emotional about the recent massacre in Newtown, CT. I’m staring at the missing spaces, filling my life with as much as I can hold. I don’t know what I can say, only that I had to say something.

Do whatever brings you the most joy. Watch movies, create art, perfect your mother’s recipe, design new traditions, pour more wine, love everyone, show affection, touch and taste and lick your fingers. Squeeze the people who enchant you.

Flocked white Christmas Tree with red tartan and plaids, Cardinal Love


  1. Stephanie, this made me cry. I am not a parent but I can only imagine how parents must feel at this time. I know how I feel. This is one of the best things you have written. So spare but so powerful. I will be sharing with friends. Thank you so much.

  2. It has been hard for me to even think about this. I am an elementary school teacher here in Arizona. For nights after the event, I had dreams about where I would be able to hide my third graders. One such dream had me tossing the same first grader over the back fence over and over again to save her and her older sister. The day it happened my husband, who is a teacher at another school, heard about what happened before me. He has to resist the urge to leave his school to get to me and our son, who goes to my school. He said the last time he felt such an intense urge to see me, to talk to me, to keep me safe was 9/11, when we were still living in NJ just outside NYC.

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