On the morning of December 14, 2012, we were preparing our annual Hanukkah party for thirty neighbors and our family. Standing at the head of our dining room table, I placed the menorah on the blue cloth with the box of candles, the matches and my husband Art’s well-worn Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book

The Today Show was on TV but I did not pay attention until I heard the loud announcement: 

“Special Report: 26 children and staff were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.”

It was heart-stopping news to hear – hours before a party attended by eleven young children and their parents. 

Memento for a tragic milestone

That afternoon, coincidentally, we received a special delivery package of a beautiful quilt made by our dear friend Sandy. She had been bugging me for years to let her know what kind of design or pattern I wanted for our quilt. Once I had finally spotted the perfect quilt in a magazine, and Art and I had agreed on the design, Sandy created it.

Of course, neither we nor Sandy could ever have dreamed when the quilt would arrive, or that it would fit the day all too perfectly. It featured abstract windows with peaked roofs spread across the top, and some of the windows showed a cross-hatch design like a target. 

I immediately started thinking of it as my Sandy Hook Quilt because of those windows in the design and the day I received it. But I also looked at the windows as representing the strength of community and the fact that no one wants to be a target. 

That evening the children lit the candles, played the dreidel game and munched on potato latkes, so we grown-ups did not talk about the day’s horrendous tragedy. Later, we lit a separate candle and offered a prayer for the children in Connecticut. I’m grateful we were all together that night. 

Getting involved in preventing gun violence

Two days later, a ten-year-old girl who lost her first-grade brother in the Sandy Hook shooting offered a suggestion to people who own guns. She asked that they leave their guns locked up at a shooting range and use them only there. Seeing her summon that kind of fervor in the middle of her soul-searing, terrible grief made me doubly determined to get involved in preventing gun violence. 

We searched for some way to help. What can you do when it feels as though there’s nothing you can do? We began by donating to Brady International (now Brady United), since they were and are leaders in trying and winning court cases to stop gun violence. Later we joined Moms Demand Action and then San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention. All of those organizations offer opportunities for action.  

We still have our yearly Hanukkah celebration and it remains undimmed by the tragedy and coincidence of December 14, 2012. The quilt is a steadfast reminder of the tipping point we reached that day.

Jane Meyers is a volunteer with San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention.

Photo credit: Jane Meyers

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