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Reflection

The calendar tells me we’re already a third of the way through January, but for some reason I’m dragging my feet (or perhaps my incomplete December to-do list is holding me hostage) when it comes to biding farewell to 2012 and fully embracing 2013.

I had originally planned to write about my Red Cross Resolutions this week, but since my Red Cross Resolutions are far too discombobulated for me to transfer them from my still-hazy-from-the-holidays brain to my computer, I’ve decided to go a different route. I’m still reflecting on 2012 – closing doors on the year’s less pleasant moments and surrounding myself with memories of what made the year special – so I suppose I’ll do the same here.

Throughout my years as a Red Crosser I’ve written many times about “the year in review”. Reading through these blog posts, articles, and messages – which I did in preparation for putting my thoughts down on paper today – was unexpectedly crushing, because I discovered that all of the pieces I’ve written are so similar. Every year is busy. Every year hosts massive natural disasters. Every year is broken by tragedy and heartbreak and loss. There is no change from year to year. There is never less work to be done, never fewer natural disasters, never fewer tragedies. If you – as I did at first – focus only on the headlines, every year is dark.

I walked away from my computer for a while, but eventually I returned, unwilling to accept darkness as the status quo and determined to reread these yearly summaries until I’d found a less dreary underlying theme.

I discovered, more easily than I’d expected, that the trick was to focus not on the devastating events that brought the Red Cross to the table in the first place, but on the fact that the Red Cross was there at all. There will always be darkness, but as long as the Red Cross exists and responds and helps, the light will shine through.

2012 was a heck of a year for the American Red Cross. Outreach provided during and in the aftermaths of large-scale disasters such as severe tornadoes and flooding, devastating wildfires, Tropical Storm Debby, Hurricane Isaac, and Superstorm Sandy drew the most attention. But the Red Cross was also quietly provided mental health and canteen services in Newtown, Connecticut; Aurora, Colorado; and Oshkosh, Wisconsin after tragic shootings devastated those communities. And in between these major events, the Red Cross, and continued to collect blood, respond to local disasters; provide support to members of the military, veterans, and their families; and teach community members the lifesaving skills of CPR and first aid.

There was plenty of darkness in 2012, but there was never more darkness than light.

Certainly gives me something to think about as I start my Red Cross Resolutions.

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