A lot of wonderful people I worked with at a job I quit 23 years ago get together every year at a big party that has in many ways defined the holidays for me and my family.
In a tradition at these parties, each of the little kids gets a present. Years later, one of those gifts to our eldest son lingers in my mind above all others. It's a squeeze toy: a baby wearing a diaper and a baseball cap bearing the word "Ace."
"Ace the Baseball Baby," as we came to call him, anchored the Meyerson bathtime toy lineup for years.
But those years passed quickly. The timeless nature of these get-togethers provides a stunning contrast to recognition that all three of our kids have grown up into young men.
And Ace has been relegated to a box in the basement.
This year, as the families of 20 children mourn their deaths in the senseless slaughter at Newtown, Conn., the passage of time weighs on me more heavily than ever.
That atrocity means the parents of 20 children won't get to introduce them, all grown up, to old friends. Twenty children won't get to bring around girlfriends or boyfriends to meet their parents' former coworkers. Twenty children won't live to hear their parents talk nostalgically about their old childhood bath toys.
Somewhere in a dark corner of a dark box, Ace the Baseball Baby awaits the call up to rejoin the roster of playthings for the next generation.
I left tonight's party hoping that generation will be blessed by lives free of horrors like that which descended on Newtown.
I returned home to read President Obama's words, echoing something I've been saying -- to some skeptics on Facebook, pleading for -- over the last few days:
"We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"
I'm not. May we all resolve to do something to see it never happens again.
About the author: Charlie Meyerson’s delivered the news to Chicago for a long time – in print, on air, online. What’s next: @Meyerson, Meyerson.blogspot.com.