Most of our daughter Evvy’s Hanukkah presents were stolen Saturday night. The wrapped gifts had been in the back of her grandparents’ car, in a big box to be taken to New York City on Sunday for a party at an aunt and uncle’s place on Riverside Drive.
For an 8-year-old already having a rough couple of weeks coming to grips with some of the world’s more bitter truths, the theft was a significant blow. Evvy has been more apprehensive than normal, asking questions about the probability that a mass extinction might strike the Earth as it did during the epoch of the dinosaurs, or that a tidal wave could hit Amagansett, that sort of thing.
That the credit card company said it would reimburse us for the cost of the stolen items made little difference to her. They were her presents, and the fact that someone else now had them left her in tears. As parents, it was a silver lining for us perhaps that the feelings were not for the objects that were lost. Rather, it was the injustice of it all that seemed to matter to her.
This is, I suppose, how many of us reacted to the news of the Sandy Hook killings in Connecticut on Friday. I, and no one I have come in contact with, knew any of the children or faculty and administrators shot that terrible day. And yet the injustice leaves us with tears in our eyes and a gulf in the heart. Twenty-six memorial Christmas trees were put up at the Hook Mill in East Hampton Village on Monday; I’m certain I was not alone choking up as I saw them the following morning on my way to work.
So far Evvy does not know about the Connecticut horror, though it is just a matter of time before something of the news will filter to her. Lisa and I have responded to Evvy’s other fears by assuring her that nothing like those events she fears is going to happen — no meteors, no earthquakes. And yet, as we take the role of soothing parents, in the back of our minds is the terrible reality.
Evvy’s Hanukkah presents, now mostly replaced during a stop at a mall, are a minor matter in the scheme of things, and for the time being, as parents, we would rather keep it that way. She doesn’t need to know the rest — not yet.