Christmas Offers Newtown a Break From Mourning

Getty Images

By Reuters

Published December 25, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

Christmas has helped the grieving Connecticut town of Newtown cope a little better with the shooting tragedy earlier this month, and allowed some people to finally smile.

Though more somber than a typical Christmas, the holiday has given Newtown a respite from the mourning. All the funerals for the victims have concluded.

“We’re getting through this with our faith and our prayer. People are smiling a little more now,” said John Barry, owner of an information technology staffing company. “The week was so horrible. Now it’s time to celebrate Christmas.”

This largely Christian town was shaken on the morning of Dec. 14, when a 20-year-old gunman armed with a military-style assault rifle shot dead 20 children aged 6 and 7 and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

Little is known about the shooter, Adam Lanza, who also killed his mother before the rampage and later himself to create a death toll of 28 in a tragedy that has revitalized the debate over U.S. gun control laws.

The sadness has moved some to act. Makeshift monuments to the dead have popped up all over town, funds have been raised, and many visitors have made a pilgrimage to Newtown, offering support.

Husband and wife Dan and Michelle McAloon of Newtown decided to go Christmas caroling this year for the first time, gathering other families and children to roam a neighborhood where the families of three victims live.

“We were just spreading some cheer, trying to make the situation a little better,” Michelle McAloon said.

“They all smiled, and they all cried a little,” she said of the victims’ families.

“Everybody said we are doing it again next year,” Dan McAloon said of the carolers. “It’s going to become a tradition.”

The McAloons and Barry were among those in an overflow crowd that attended Christmas Eve Mass on Monday night at Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, which held its biggest service at the high school auditorium.

Nine families from the parish lost someone in the shooting, and at least four of those families came to the big Christmas Eve Mass, Monsignor Robert Weiss said.

“Everything is just a lot more somber. Some people are just going through the motions because it’s Christmas. Others are trying to make it special,” Weiss said after the service.

“There is reason to celebrate. Hopefully when people start to see their extended families, or people from outside of Newtown, or even go out of town, they will be able to. You can’t get away from it in this town,” he said.

Christmas Eve Mass featured a pageant that told the Christian story of Jesus’ birth. One of the more poignant moments came when people applauded a group of two dozen little girls dressed as angels. They all knew shooting victim Olivia Engel, 6, was supposed to be among them.

“I highly recommend that before you rip open those gifts, say a prayer for those children,” Weiss told parishioners. “Then give your own children a hug.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.