At about this time, I started to realize why most people bring out the elves on the first of December instead of Thanksgiving – particularly when Thanksgiving comes earlier than usual in the month of November. My well of ideas began to run a little dry.
I regret that I didn’t get a picture of the elves this night. They made paper chains and left them for the kids to complete. They were perched at the top of a doorway with a sign that read:
This doorway was looking a little plain.
Please help us complete this paper chain!
The kids had fun taping the paper strips together and hung their creations in their rooms.
True confession: I lie to my kids. I perpetuate myths about Santa and magic elves. I tell them that they can do anything if they just work hard enough. When they’re afraid of the dark and have scary dreams, I hold them and assure them that monsters don’t exist.
But their dolls don’t magically come to life, and no matter how hard she works, the chance of my daughter becoming the president is pretty slim.
And monsters do exist.
They may not be hairy or slimy or blue. They may not live under the bed. But there are monsters in our world. And like those conjured up by my son’s imagination, they feed on fear and seek to torment to the fullest extent those who are the most vulnerable. Whether motivated by a twisted sense of vindication, an absurdly disproportionate rage, or a sick enjoyment of control, the price they demand of the innocent is the same:
Profoundly intense fear…
Today, a 20 year old man shot his mother, then drove to the school where she worked and opened fire on children. The death toll is sickening. The last moments of those innocents were moments of terror, helplessness, and the inability to escape.
The killer took his own life. His struggle in this life is over, and he is gone. But the monster lives on in the stain of his deeds that will haunt the victims and their families for years. Every December as the world prepares for a joyous Christmas, a number of families will still be trying to patch the holes left when pieces of their life’s tapestry were senselessly and violently ripped out. I hurt for these, and pray for God’s peace and comfort to rain down on them.
In the meantime, I will continue to send my children out into the world where I cannot guarantee their safety. I will pray God’s protection over them. And I will continue to lie to them and say that monsters don’t exist. They will learn soon enough about the realities of evil in this world, but as far as I am able, I will not promote fear in them. Because the moment that happens, the very moment I allow myself or my family to fear the uncertainty of life – that is the moment I have opened the door to the monster.
And while there are certainly monsters among us, we ought not to bow to them.