Our Christmas festivities kick off tomorrow - Christmas Eve, and we're wrapping up our Christmas countdown calendar.
Day 16: We made gingerbread houses. For Carmine, this involved way more eating candy than decorating, but that's all part of the fun.
Day 17 was particularly aptly timed - Do something kind for another person. This was the perfect opportunity for us to write letters and draw pictures to send to Sandy Hook. We'll also be making snowflakes to send, and the boys' school is taking up some collections to send to the students, also, so this activity will be continued into the new year.
Day 18 - Read your favorite xmas book with Mom or Dad.
Day 19 - Skype Grammy and Grampy and sing them a Christmas song - I think this was the boys' favorite thing on the whole calendar, even though Gabe was the only one who sang. Dante mouthed the words, and when I asked Carmine to sing, he said "no thanks." He loved talking to Grammy and Grampy, though, and afterward, he commented that "That was fun, seeing Grammy Grampy in their house!"
Day 20 - Do something kind for the earth. They actually remembered to turn lights off that day!!!!
Day 21 - Play a board game with Mom or Dad. Of course we played Gabe's favorite - Monopoly. They played most of it with Dad, while Carmine was napping. I attempted to play with them after Carmine woke up, but it was kind of difficult to focus on the game while Carmine was running around throwing play money at all of us, and grabbing property cards and yelling "This MY nopoly!"
Day 22 - Watch your favorite xmas movie with Mom or Dad
Day 23 - Make reindeer food. We'll do that today, and sprinkle it in the yard tomorrow.
Day 24 - Write a christmas story or poem.
I've moved through the past week with such a mix of emotions. It's been a flurry of activity, and my to-do list has kept me occupied and busy every day, which has been a good thing.
But Newtown is always in my thoughts.
The boys have not mentioned the shooting or asked any questions, and are back into their routine, and are bouncing off the walls about Christmas - as they should be.
Gabe is notoriously bad about talking to us, though, so I have brought it up a few times, just to try to get a sense of whether or not he has questions or feelings he's not sharing. I don't want to keep reminding them about it, but I also want to make sure I can try to reassure him or comfort him if he's got horrible, confusing thoughts in his head that he's not sharing with me.
We try to have them not use the word stupid, and when I brought up the incident the other day, he said "Mommy, I'm sorry, but I have to say that this whole thing is just so STUPID!" I told him that it was very, very stupid, and that this was one time I was ok with him using that word.
And that - that is why this has hit me to the core. These were innocent little kids - kids for whom 'stupid' is a bad word. It still doesn't seem possible that something like this could happen to them.
Every time I walk into Gabe and Dante's school, I can't help but imagine the same thing happening there. I see the faces of those children, and I can't help but picture my precious six-year-old. This post, shared by a friend on Facebook, says so eloquently what goes through my mind every day.
And then I feel guilty, because at least I have my boys to worry about. As heart-wrenching as it is to imagine it happening to me, it is just imagining. It's not real, like it is for so many in Connecticut.
So I've been hugging the boys a little tighter before I put them on the bus. And I've been lingering on the corner, watching the bus as it heads down the street, out of sight. And I've found myself wanting to drive by the school during the day, just to make sure that everything is ok. And I'm glad it's Christmas break now, and they'll be home with me for an entire week.
I've also been making more of an effort to just be there for them. To put aside my tasks for a moment so that I can give them my full attention. To read an extra book at bedtime. To take the long way home so we can check out Christmas lights. To take 15 minutes and play Legos, even when I have a million other things I could be doing.
All these things - these ordinary things - are still somewhat clouded. In the background, in my head and in my heart, is still fear, confusion, disbelief.
But I know that I'll get through all of that. And I know that in comparison to what the families in CT are experiencing, my problems are miniscule.
I'll be attending a candlelight vigil in town tonight. It seems like such a small thing, but I feel the need to be there.
And on January 19th, I'll be running the Strides for Sandy Hook 5K in Newtown.
At a time where I feel so incredibly helpless, I welcome the opportunity to do something that might spread some good in this community.
I'll donate in whatever way I can, and I'll send snowflakes, and we'll write letters, and I'll take some small comfort in the fact that we're doing what we can.
But for me, the 5K will likely be the most meaningful, because that's the thing that's closest to my heart. When nothing else makes sense, when I need to clear my head and heal my heart, I run. So next month, I'll do just that.
And tomorrow we'll celebrate Christmas Eve with all the cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents, and we'll bask in the glow of being surrounded by, as Gabe put it - "family, fun, and love."
It's always one of my favorite days of the year, but this year it's going to seem even more special.
For more from Michelle, check out Me and the Boys, her blog.