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"Rock you like a hurricane..."

An open letter to a fellow mother:

Dear Ms. C,

You posted the following editorial contribution to the South Jersey Times regarding the recent storms to hit NJ and the surrounding area and the subsequent changes to Halloween and Trick-or-Treating:

To the Editor:

I am was very displeased with Gov. Chris Christie’s Executive Order to delay Halloween to Monday (Nov. 5). I am also displeased with our local governments for bowing so quickly without seeing what was best for their specific towns.

The area we live in was spared from the devastation, yet the entire state was lumped together as a giant disaster area. It didn’t matter that my town had already come up with an alternate plan, or that other towns had already assessed damages and realized that it was safe for our children to go and carry out their traditions.

Never before have I felt the presence of the government in my home as loudly as I did on Oct. 31. I found it very contradictory to the motto of our country. I did not feel free.

My two children, ages 5 and 8, know there was a hurricane, know that we were safe and sound inside our house, and know that we are back to business as usual in our area. As the storm progressed and phone calls came in, our Halloween plans changed daily. Waking up on Halloween morning we had a plan in place. By afternoon I had to tell my children of new plans, again.

My children learned a lesson about government. They learned that there are people in power who have the ability to make decisions that directly affect them.

Many will say that our children will forget once they get their night out, but I don’t agree. As they grow older, and become adults, they will remember this as the Halloween that wasn’t.

I will take my children with me on Tuesday to vote. And I know they will ask if the people I’m voting for had anything to do with Halloween. You can be sure that I will not vote for local individuals who did a poor job in taking my town and county into consideration.

(original text and link to can be found by clicking here)

I can't help but feel that you are missing what is, essentially, the bigger picture in terms of life and the way things happen.

To begin, the order issued by Gov. Christie was for towns who did not, at the time of his edict, already have a plan in place. My hometown officials had a plan in place and were able to follow it. If there was a change in plans in Mullica Hill, it was a decision made by local government in what I can only imagine was for the safety and well-being of the people of Mullica Hill. You made the observation that your town officials were "bowing" to the orders of our Governor. Guess what? They should. When it comes down to it, that's their job.

I am very, very happy that your family came through the storm safely and that your town was subjected to minimal damage. What a blessing that you can hold your children under the warmth and safety of your own roof. There are many of our neighbors in NJ that can not say the same. At the very least, there were people without power for days. At worst, there were people who lost their homes, their livelihood and memories. Even worse, there were people who lost loved ones. It's a time to be okay with being "lumped together" with the rest of our NJ neighbors. I feel that our NJ government handled this amazing, unusual, devastating situation as best as possible.

You mentioned that you didn't feel "free". I can't help but be curious- what would you have done had it rained on Halloween? Or if there had been a freak snowstorm much like last year? An outdoor holiday like Halloween is often left at the mercy of Mother Nature- the storm being an extreme example of such.

I agree in that the absence of Halloween can be heartbreaking to a young child. Halloween is exciting and fun and you get candy! Five and eight are still very young, and I completely understand the disappointment in their sweet young hearts. Still, there was something you said that I just can not get past:

My children learned a lesson about government. They learned that there are people in power who have the ability to make decisions that directly affect them.

Many will say that our children will forget once they get their night out, but I don’t agree. As they grow older, and become adults, they will remember this as the Halloween that wasn’t.

There were, indeed, lessons to be learned here. How sad that the lesson for your children couldn't be one of creativity, where in the absence of Halloween on the 31st it couldn't be replaced with, perhaps, a family candy party, the one night a year where dessert came first. Or that the lesson couldn't be compassion, in which you took a family trip to get candy to be packed up with notes of encouragement for all of those other Jersey kids we've been "lumped" with who won't have Halloween, delayed or otherwise. Or a lesson about blessings, because there are a hell of a lot of people who will remember this as the Halloween in which everything they knew was destroyed. And about that "power"? The lesson is that it is sometimes out of the hands of humankind as a whole.

The tone of your letter gave the impression that the only lesson here was that the indescribable suffering of the people you share a state with was little more then an inconvenience to you. The lesson that even when you have been left with the amazing blessing of a life untouched by the devastation of the storm, you want more. It was sad and small, even in what was your obvious need to keep your children happy. As a parent, I can understand that.

I just can't understand your lack of compassion and your sense of entitlement. I just pray that you continue to have a life that is blessed enough to have Halloween be a worry big enough to spurn the need to write to the papers and that you don't ever need to help of the New Jerseyans you have been "lumped" with.

Wishing your luck continues,
Brie L.


kd006 said…
Well said, I doubt Suzanne will ever read it though. One of three things is probably going on with her.

1- she is wearing a wig,sunglasses, big floppy hat and a trenchcoat as a disguise.
2- she is sitting in the back of her walk-in closet bottle of wine in her hand rocking back and forth among the Macy's and Lord & Talor sacks.
3- None of the above because she is actualy as oblivious as she came across in her letter.
I think your response was extremely well articulated. And I can't help but agree that this woman seems to be complaining that this tragedy has inconvenienced her.

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