The one gift we all can give

It is born out of need every year.  We gather them up and bring them to the makeshift hospital I've set up in our home.  The lame and broken are scattered on the counter before me, and I get to work restoring them all.

One year, I remember, I cared for two decapitated Cinderellas.  The tragedy of it all overwhelmed my little girls whose pictures were forever posed right beside the delicate ornamental characters, their smiles clueless to the brokenness so close to them.  It was a strange site to see such happiness as they sat there unaware of their neighbor's plight.

A dab of stubborn glue healed the situation and those resin ornaments were placed back on the tree.  You'd have to look closely to see the hairline scar, a reminder of the past.

It's nearly Christmas.

Our Advent calenders are dwindling down, and the kids are full excitement.  I remember how slowly the days would pass when I was younger.  Now I feel there is barely enough time to breathe deep before another sun rises.  I love Christmas, but every. single. year I think of those who are struggling through this season.

My mother, at sixteen, lost her father a week before Christmas.  I know she was broken, and how she still wears the scars.  I was sixteen when she weeped through the full story in intricate detail.  I wanted to save her from the tender places that still ached after thirty years.  I wanted to make her story better with a bit of stubborn glue, but all I could do was listen to how she'd lost her heart at Christmas.

Sometimes, that's all we can do.

We think of Christmas as a time for family.  We can give up the parties, and the presents, and all of the merry making if we only have each other.  But what we if don't?  What if someone is missing this year?

I think of children who've been swallowed by the earth, and how their stockings hang empty on the mantel.  I think of families, of husbands and wives, who are torn into so many pieces that they can't imagine they might ever feel whole again.

If we were honest with each other, we'd tell stories of how we're all a bit broken.  We'd share our scars and display our hairline cracks, those of us who've survived.

We could do that for each other.

We don't have to move half way across the world to make a difference in someone's life.  We only need to be willing to open up a bit of our past, pull away the coverings of things we try to hide, try to forget.  We could reveal those tender red places right where we are, and stop pretending that they don't still hurt.  We could be brave.

And all of this could be a gift, for you and for me and for an entire world of people who are walking around without their heads.  Knowing one might understand, might care that we are hurting could make all the difference.  Together we can carry on, carry through, survive and heal.

Christmas is coming.  You can be a gift.


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