It’s Christmas, hold your loved ones tight

By Deborah McCaslin, Chief Publisher This next week is Christmas and I’m still trying to figure where this past year went, much less December. Our children are going to be there, along with the next generation so I couldn’t feel more blessed. Age doesn’t matter, our children are our children. This week, like the rest of the nation my heart has ached for the families in Connecticut. I found myself sobbing for the parents, for the teachers who loved the children as their own, and for the community. I’m convinced there are some very bad, very mixed up people out there. People who set out with one purpose ... to hurt others. Those children, those beautiful children ... The news casters have tried to highlight each of the victims by talking about the individual as a person, not just a number. There were 26 people killed at the school, 20 children and 6 adults. Each of these have families, friends, people who love them and who will miss them. The shooter who took his own life and that of his mothers took the number to 28. There is a huge shame in all of this, a huge regret. No one will ever know the feats these children could have accomplished or the difference in their world they could have made. Could have, might have are words with no comfort attached. Whether or not you like President Obama isn’t at question Monday evening he gave a powerful speech. Three times, yes, three times in his administration he has stood before a community to help the families of innocent people morn the deaths of their loved ones. He basically said, enough is enough, and he’s ready to go after legislation deeply ingrained in our rights as American citizens. Do we need stricter gun control? Do we need better background checks? According to a report on the BBC, the same type of assault rifle used at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut was also used in Aurora, Colo. Yet the guns in Connecticut were not registered to the gunman, they were registered to his mother. She too was gunned down. She too lost her life. Do we need more education? Better warning signs? The teachers did what they could ... they lost their own lives trying to protect their little ones. The stories continue to unravel as the community now struggles to do what comes next, burying their dead, and all of this at Christmas. The hard part is yet to come because the void will live on. When the media has gone home, and the neighboring communities start to go about their business, the void will become deafening. Long, long ago, I was pretty young at the time, the priest of our church stood up to give the sermon on Christmas Eve ... his mother had died earlier that afternoon. No, she wasn’t gunned down by some unknown assailant, but it was unexpected. I didn’t know his mom and I didn’t know she had died until he started to speak. That’s when he shared his heart. I don’t remember the words, only the message. He had just lost someone who meant the world to him, but it was Christmas, and because of the meaning of Christmas, he refused to be sad. “Unto Us A Child Is Born” They say Christmas is for children .... I believe Christmas is for everyone who believes that Christ came into the world to save us from ourselves and to sprinkle this world with hope when things have gone terribly, terribly wrong. So this Christmas, hug your loved ones, old and young, and pull them tight. Tell them how much they mean to you and then whisper, ever so gently, Merry Christmas, Christ loves you too. ~~~ Editor’s Note: This letter was received today through the Nebraska Newspaper Association, as the local newspaper at Newtown, Conn., reaches out for help. Dear Newspaper Colleagues, I wanted to reach out the first moment I could to many of you, and journalists around the globe, who reached out to us at The Bee to send thoughts, prayers and asking how you can be of help to our community - especially those immediately impacted by the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook School. The outpouring of support has been, and continues to be overwhelming. But it has created opportunities for scams and legitimate organizations that are taking pass-through and/or processing expenses before delivering donations being made. Newton Savings Bank has assured me through its president and CEO that its survivors fund will be distributing 100 percent of every donation to assure the immediate victims are being cared for - including any expenses related to specialized counselors and responders who need to be brought in and put up in close proximity to Newton. I will be discussing with them in the near future ideas about how any future surplus from donations can continue to serve victims and especially children affected by this and other similar tragedies. If any media outlets are inclined, they can direct readers, viewers and listeners to www.nsbonline.comfort for information on donating to this fund. Having friends of my own who lost children, and many more who were immediate to the incident, I can't begin to articulate the horror this unwanted event has showered on us, but your thoughts and prayers will make a significant and positive difference. With deepest appreciation,John Voket Associate Editor, The Newton Bee~~~~ Last week I wrote about city government. Gary Geiselman wrote to clarify some of the finer points of the Airport Authority and to point out that members of the Airport Authority are also elected officials, thanks Gary. Members of the Authority are appointed only when a vacancy occurs on the board between elections cycles or when the 6-year term of a member comes up for election and no individual from the Broken Bow city limits files for the position.