This has not been the happiest of holiday seasons in our nation or here in Lincoln County.
As always, goodwill swells this time of year and there are many stories of people helping other people in need.
Here in Lincoln, a multitude of people, through organizations both public and private, put their efforts into making this December a better one for their impoverished neighbors.
But there was far too much unnecessary death darkening the end of the year, too.
In Connecticut, 28 died when a mentally unwell man began killing children and staff at an elementary school.
Though legions more die every year in individual killings, tragedies like what happened at Sandy Hook fray the fabric of our society, make us worry that it will all come undone.
Because if something like the Sandy Hook shooting can happen, then how strong is this safe and happy life we've constructed for ourselves, anyway?
Affecting us here in Lincoln County, a 16-year-old boy was buried on Christmas Eve and a former Marine who attended church in Hustonville lost his life on Dec. 26.
These unnecessary deaths remind us that even when we think we've got it all worked out, even if our fabric of life appears strong, things can still go horribly wrong.
It would be nice if we could make a new year's resolution to never have a mass shooting again, or to have everyone be perfectly careful with their cars and guns.
But such resolutions would inevitably end up just like all resolutions that call for instant and perfect change — broken and abandoned long before the year is over.
In just the last week, Lincoln has already seen another pair of unnecessary deaths — one from a gunshot wound and one from a vehicle wreck.
No one should pretend to have solutions that would have prevented any of the deaths that darkened December 2012. In the case of Sandy Hook, far too many people are already pretending to have solutions.
I don't know how to stop the next accidental gun death or highway crash. I don't know if there's any way to assist all those in need of serious mental help before one of them does something we'll all regret.
But I do know we can all do a little better when it comes to strengthening the fabric that holds us together.
We can all give some time and effort to taking care of those on the margins.
We can all give up on our favorite political teams and realize "the other side" is just other people like us who also want a good world.
We can all stop fabricating apocalyptic battles over our tiniest disagreements and start building from areas of agreement.
Maybe if we strengthen our fabric by fostering an atmosphere of acceptance and love for everyone, there won't be as many people who feel the need to express themselves through violence.
Maybe if we can develop a new respect and reverence for life, more people will be extra-vigilant before something goes wrong.
There is no formula or recipe for causing such a cultural shift, but I think such a cultural shift is possible.
Whether it catches on or not, the only way such a change begins is with individuals doing their own small parts.
Real change happens when you alter your own behaviors and begin treating everyone with a little more love and respect, because you want the future to be an improvement over the now.
That's the kind of new year's resolution I could actually get behind.