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Coming home to Newtown for the holidays

A man pays tribute to the victims of an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
A man pays tribute to the victims of an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

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Millions of travelers will be heading home for the holidays this weekend. While it's usually a merry task, for writer Sean Beaudoin, there's a cloud of sadness associated with coming home this year. 

Beaudoin grew up in Newtown, Conn., attended Sandy Hook Elementary School for kindergarten and he still have family and friends who live in Newtown. This weekend he'll journey back with his wife and 8-year-old daughter, to the town still reeling from last week's school shooting.

"As soon as I heard the news I wanted to fly back immediately, but there's nothing to be done, but call your family, sit back and watch and grieve in your own way," said Beudoin on Take Two. "It was easy to imagine getting that impossible phone call and driving up Route 25, which is the way I would have gone, envisioning myself in the car and arriving at the school and the first responders and the unimaginable thought of those parents gathered together. It was too easy to do."

Beaudoin describes his childhood in the picturesque, woodsy town as idyllic. Some of his earliest memories include leaving his house in the morning to play, sometimes not coming home until dinner time. He says the images of the town's flagpole, church spires, and dense woods accurately represent the quaint beauty of the town, but that there's a side people aren't seeing. 

"Newtown also has a very working class element to it. It's not practical to commute to Manhattan though some people do it. It used to be a manufacturing town, rubber factories and I believe at one point it was the main producer of firehouse, so those two element clash," said Beaudoin. "There's a sense of wealth and people have been there a long time, and a real history there. It was a fantastic place to grow up. I'm not sure if that ideas coming across."

To prepare for traveling to Newtown and the inevitability that the subject would be brought up, he discussed the incident with his 8-year-old daughter.  Though she didn't understand all the answers, he says she was particularly upset about the little girls' pictures she saw on television. 

"It's really sad to me that just the name of Newtown or Sandy Hook School is going to carry a shorthand across the nation for a tragedy as opposed to the way I think of it in my head,  and join the other single names that evoke those feelings, Columbine, Aurora," said Beaudoin. "It's really unfortunate for all the  people of Newtown to be placed in that context now."

To read more from Sean Beaudoin, visit his website

Read Sean Beaudoin's essay "Going Home"