We can't wrap our hearts.

The older I get, the more stressful the Christmas season becomes to me. The older I get, the more I struggle with finding "the perfect gifts" for all the people I love so dearly. The older I get, the more I realize how far our world is from really understanding what this season is about. Black Friday sales turning into black Friday violence. Tempers are tested when the one thing they were looking for in Best Buy is no longer there. There is not one store that is left un-touched. No sale left un-searched. Last night, I went to San Francisco with a few friends to get a little taste of city Christmas celebration and I just found myself completely overwhelmed and ultimately heartbroken at what I saw. The streets were crowded with people, Starbucks in hand (myself included) going from store to store, collecting more and more bags as they went. See, I love the city especially at Christmas time, it's almost magical with all the beautiful lights, the people who usually have a smile on their face and everything just feels lighter, happier, and if I dare say more fulfilling. However, while I walked around with my friends, I couldn't help but notice those who's homes we were shuffling past, who were kept warm by scraps of cardboard and were used to people never really making eye contact with them. I couldn't help but notice as their eyes shifted while they watched bag after bag filled of all the reasons why they won't be eating that night because we have a list, we have things to get done, we have gifts to buy and gifts to get.  Doesn't your heart break just a little at this?

Now don't get me wrong, I am not any less guilty than the next person with a cramp in their hands from the bags they're carrying. I am not any less guilty of saying "I'm sorry" to the man who just wanted a dollar as a I counted how much I have "left to work with" for the remainder of my gifts. It all just makes me feel a little well...crappy. I keep having to remind myself, its not about the gifts. All last night, I just kept asking the question "Why?"  Like, why do I feel I need to give gifts? Why do I feel I have to stress myself out to get the one thing that will produce a huge grin across my families faces? Its because maybe around this time, we think that I love you is maybe just not enough. That maybe saying "I appreciate you" just might not cut it. But I didn't just want this year to be another "here's-my-gift-to-you-I-took-the-price-tag-off-because-my-love-for-you-doesn't-have-a-price"  This year, I realized I want my gift to others... to be my heart. I want each person I love, care about and hold dear to see the parts of my heart that belong to them. And then I also realized Oh wait, I can't wrap my heart. This Christmas season, I realize that I want it to be less about the gifts and more about the moments that happen shortly after the gifts have been opened (or more so attacked). I want it to be about my brothers laugh and the way my mother slowly comes to life after a good cup of coffee in the morning. Its about realizing that I'm older and that the stuff under the tree can honestly wait until noon. its about saying I love you through all the stuff that reminds us of each other But its also about remembering that IT'S JUST STUFF. Next year it'll either be buried under some other stuff, and we'll replace it with more stuff. We can't wrap our hearts, so instead we give stuff. Because its the hype and its the best we can do. Look, I'm not anti-Christmas shopping or anti gifts, however I do think that sometimes we can get swept away with whats going on and not really stop to see.

Maybe this is my own nostalgic movie like memory but, I miss the moments where the Christmas season brought stories that made your insides feel warmer than coffee could. You know, the stories about the person who paid for the toll of the car behind them The lady who purchased a meal for the man outside who was too tired to rattle his change cup. This season needs Christ back into it, it needs the reason why we celebrate it in the first place. The season that reflects the birth of the Son of God, the prime example of love, grace, forgiveness and one that reminds us that life is a gift.

This season needs hope, not just more stuff.

So the next time we're out, lets try and remind ourselves what the Christ in Christmas looks like again. What the (Holy) in Holidays could look like (roll with me on this one...) What the hope in this season could bring to this world. It's not about the stuff, the sales, and the lists, Its about the I love you, I appreciate you, the thank you and the way we try so hard to wrap each piece of our heart and give it to those we love and even those who may not be receiving anything this year but the smile you gave them, the warm cup of anything you placed in their hands, or the meal you bought, or even the decision to stop, truly look at them and say "Merry Christmas."

So, there's my holiday ramble. Merry Christmas Friends.

Originally written: December 19, 2013

UncategorizedArielle Estoria