Editor’s Note: Fredricka Whitfield is a CNN anchor who hosts the weekend edition of “CNN Newsroom.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.
Fredricka Whitfield: Despite the pain, a Sandy Hook mom is trying to mark the holiday for her family and to promote awareness of gun risks
Three years later, families are still mending while helping others, she writes
This past week, many of us put up Christmas lights and wreaths – an exciting ritual ushering in festivities and merriment marking the season of giving.
For my kids, it was over-the-top exciting. Twinkling lights, the jingle of bells on our front door.
I smiled and laughed at their joy.
But on the inside, this year, was different for me, particularly because of an incredible Newtown, Connecticut mother I met and interviewed days ago in Moore, Oklahoma. I couldn’t stop thinking of her and her family, what this moment feels like for them right now.
Sadly, for too many families, this time of year returns them to unbearable depths of anguish. Nicole Hockley is among them.
Hockley’s 6-year-old son, Dylan, was among the 26 people gunned down at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, three years ago Monday.
Through unimaginable grief and pain, Hockley and other families founded Sandy Hook Promise to help each other heal and promote school safety across the country. The organization issued a challenge to schools nationwide to come up with their approach on preventing gun violence.
Students at a high school in Moore, Oklahoma, say they were so moved, they came up with their own “Say Something” campaign – a campaign that got Hockley’s attention, and a $10,000 check from the Sandy Hook Promise organization to help the Moore students do even more.
Hockley told me this is the first year since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre that she and her family are picking out a tree, making new decorations and hopefully new Christmas memories.
She tells me it’s still incredibly hard, but she and her husband are pushing through the pain for their now 11-year-old son, Jake. Jake told his parents he wants Christmas this year.
So as you decorate, celebrate, make new memories of your own this holiday season, think about and pray for families like those of Sandy Hook, still trying to mend while at the same time promoting safety for all of our children.