Every year I vow to do Christmas a little different. A little more simple. A little more meaningful.
This year is no exception. I've done very little shopping, minimal decorating, choosing to focus instead on being "in" the season—adopting a mind state of open-heartedness, gratitude, and joy as best I can.
I've also been pondering the idea of “boxless presents" that our family members might be able to give one another. What things mean the most to us? What would we like to receive from someone else? I know what I’d like to receive from the loved ones in my life. I’d like to be given the gift of their time. In my view, there is no better gift than being able to spend time with the people I love.
Moving through life at the pace we are, with “To Do” lists dominating our days, it is our free time that becomes a precious commodity. Is it possible this year to make a change and create a “To Be” list for ourselves—a roster of all the ways we can be with the important people in our lives—giving the holiday gift of our presence instead? (This is something I'm working on personally ...)
What might be on your “To Be” list? Perhaps a leisurely walk with someone who needs a listening ear; reading a book with a grandchild; reliving old memories perusing photo albums with an aging parent or grandparent; a phone call to a childhood friend (or someone with whom you’ve lost touch). These are the things that mean the most: the gifts of listening, caring, and presence. They are things that cannot be wrapped in pretty paper and placed under the Christmas tree, but they are entities of enduring value. They are also memories in the making. They are gifts that will last and last.
Time moves quickly. Life is short. When all is said and done and we look back upon our lives, what we’ll remember most are the people with whom we spent our days and nights. We will recall the warm hugs of friends, children, and grandchildren; hearty, animated at the dinner table; the late nights we shared comforting one another through the ups and downs of life.
It’s interesting isn’t it, the similarity in these two words: “Presents” and “presence”? Which would you prefer to receive? If gift giving is at the top of your priority list, my hope for you this holiday season is that you will dig deeper than your pocketbook and creatively design some quality time—the gift of presence—for the important people in your life. And that you will receive some in return, as well.
Simplicity of living, if deliberately chosen, implies a compassionate approach to life. It means that we are choosing to live our daily lives with some degree of conscious appreciation of the condition of the rest of the world.
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