As I passed the bookcase, I glanced up at the three portraits of the greatest blessings of my life. Their smiling faces looked down on me as I shifted my gaze to the garland adorned fireplace and our glowing Christmas tree.
I couldn't help but feel a deep sense of gratitude for these three beautiful lives. I admit, more often than not, they are the impetus of my deepest angst. But, I suppose that is due, in part, to the incredibly large part of my heart they inhabit.
It is a different Christmas this year. Not that any two are alike, at least not since I left home and began experiencing Christmas through the eyes of one set apart.
There is a growing trend (at least among the community of bloggers I choose to read each day) to experience Christmas in a new way. Many have forgone the tradition of exchanging gifts altogether, opting instead to choose a recipient each day from the wealth of fair-trade, good-gifts catalogs.
I have to admit, I wouldn't have been drawn to this crowd if I hadn't been experiencing my own sense of dissatisfaction with the traditions in recent years. At some point, giving and receiving gifts among those I cared for started to seem futile. Maybe it was getting to the age where "I give you a $30 gift card to Best Buy and you give me a $30 gift card to Target and for crying out loud why don't we just each keep our $30 and save ourselves the trouble!?"
Somewhere along the line it stopped seeming like we were gifting another with something meaningful and started seeming like fulfilling an obligation.
So I begin to question the tradition. And yet, there is a part of me that clings to the idea of giving gifts, even among those perfectly capable of providing for themselves. I want to give people things. I want to express my appreciation. I want pretty packages with bows under my tree.
In part, it is what I have known. I recall the anticipation and joy of opening a gift chosen specifically for me and finding it to be perfect in every way, even though I had never requested it. I remember feeling cared for and special and chosen.
And so I struggle. I'm not ready to give up the traditions ... yet I feel the tug on my heart. I see the hundreds of lives I could impact with the paltry amount I spend on my holiday gifts.
But I'm not there yet.
And yet. I haven't closed the door either.
It may take the still small voice of a child to turn the tide. And when it happens, my heart will be prepared.