The give and take of gifts

I thought of it as we were standing around its circle placing memories into evergreen hands outstretched.  The lights flickered bright and we were warm with the happiness of it all.  The excitement on the faces four reached right into me, and what I felt was unworthy thankfulness.

Here, this moment found us under black skies with a stray ordinary star and they were side by side by side by side.  It caught in my throat, the ache of what these moments would be if one of these gifts was not present.  And it's not so hard to realize that we are only one tragedy away from being broken into pieces.  But for the grace of God. . .

Those families that are missing one this year?  Do they thank God for amazing grace?  Can they find goodness in a God who's hand is in their brokenness and continue to say all is well with my soul?

I look at them and hold their precious hands.  If God should take them all away, would they be any less of a gift?  Would I be faithful to praise a God who gives and also takes away?

I think of two small babies lost long before they could be presented into a young mother's arms, and I remember pain.  I remember feeling the injustice of a life being snuffed out before it even had a chance to flicker.  I silent screamed, "Why me?" while I prayed angry to a God who promised to never leave me.  I questioned his goodness.  I looked hard for his hand in the miserable sadness as I searched wild for the answer of suffering.

Time was his faithful gift to me.  It was time that brought me to this place of thankfulness, standing around a tree with four children laughing merry at the ornaments.  I gather one up with its careful carvings and hang it gentle to the tree.  A child wrapped, his gift broken and hanging on a tree.

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