When I began writing this article toward the end of November, my intention was to be transparent when so many times during the holiday season, a simulated form of joy is thrown into people's faces whether they like it or not.
I was going to tell you about a person I knew who passed away right before Thanksgiving and its sudden shock (because there was no illness present, etc.) and almost-disbelief.
"And if I was feeling that surprised," I wrote, "then I could only imagine--or perhaps I couldn't even fathom--how the family was feeling."
But I never imagined that something like Sandy Hook would ever happen, changing the course of something small like this column and more so, the mindset of America.
This year, some babies aren't with their families. They're gone. Senselessness took over on that fateful Friday the 14th, gunfire rang out and innocent blood was shed inside the elementary school.
When everything unfolded that day, my Twitter feed was blowing up about a shooting in Connecticut. I didn't know the details, because as social media has advanced, sometimes the facts and information can't all get crammed into 140 characters.
It's a weird thing, social media. With the speed it harbors yet short information, I found myself glued to it. But right before I left my desk to cover an event, the tweets were coming in that most of the victims...were children in an elementary school.
Later when I went home and planned on getting some laundry done, I turned the TV on. ABC News was in a special report, and in those two hours I watched, I couldn't get anything done.
Here's one of the many reasons I'm torn over this: most of the little lives lost were around six years old, first graders. I take that to heart because my little nephew is that age, and I hurt to think that people lost little boys and girls who, if they're anything like Cameron, are so full of life and humor and full of love.
And for one of those little victims who was buried on Monday, I ache because he was a twin and his twin sister survived. I'm a twin too. We twins carry a special and unique bond, so I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to be separated from someone who's been with you since birth.
So (going back to my original column) when I think about it...the people who have lost a loved one during the holiday season--whether in Newtown or here or wherever, my heart goes out to those families. The joyous atmosphere and family traditions are almost marred by the remembrance of a loved one lost, shaping the entire occasion for these families.
To those who have experienced loss during the holiday season: I hope that you cling to what is good--the memories, the traditions, the joy. Please know that, for one thing, you're not alone. Others know what you've been through and what you're going through. And on top of that, God's hand of comfort is always there to reach out to you when you need it.
And for those of us who don't know what it means to suffer loss during this time of year, remember these people. Reach out to them through prayer, or words of affirmation, or service...any way you can. Remember that when your best-laid plans for the holidays are messed up because of a shopping snafu or food fiasco...for others, that is the least on their minds. They're trying to make it through one more holiday without the person they loved.
Let's put things in perspective this Christmas season. As we gather with family and friends throughout the holiday, remember those in need as we recall the birth of the Savior.
Merry Christmas to all of you, and--if I don't write a column between now and then--have a Happy New Year.
Belinda Serrano is a staff writer at the Sweetwater Reporter. Comments about this column may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.