The Gift of Presence

Have you finished your shopping?  Perhaps I should ask, have you begun?  My understanding is that yesterday was actually the biggest shopping day of the year.  What I always find of interest is the difficulty we all have in selecting the right gift.  Some worry about the fit, while others will struggle with the issue of functionality.  Then of course, we always have the issue of being appropriate; what message is sent by the gift?  Is it too personal?  Will they see the humor in it?  What will they read into it?  Selecting the right present can be a challenging task, but what if I told you that I have the perfect gift, one that you can give to anyone, anywhere, anytime.  You see, it’s not a case of giving a present; rather, the greatest gift you can give, is your presence.

Time is the most precious commodity we have.  There was a time in my life when it seemed endless.  I remember sitting with my brothers and listening as my grandparents recounted their younger days and shared their lives with us.   They weren’t distracted by a cell phone, laptop, or really any other electrical device.  This was their time with “the boys”, and they took advantage of every moment; as they knew they had lived the vast majority of their days.  Soon time would run its course and their physical presence would end, but the moments they created with us would be remembered forever.  That little boy who listened to those stories is now the “Grampy”, and the sand in the bottom of his hourglass is filling fast.

My shopping is done.  The presents are-well hidden and await wrapping.  On Christmas day will they sit under the tree ready to be opened.  Later Christmas morning, some will be loaded into the car for the drive to the Wolfpups’ (grandchildren’s) house.  After we eat, the presents will be distributed.  Hopefully everything will fit, it will not be a duplicate, and it will be exactly what was wanted.  But this year I’m going to endeavor to give the “pups”, my family, friends, clients, and colleagues, the gift I remember my grandparents always sharing with me; time and presence.

What does that look like?  It’s simple!  Leaving the laptop and iPad at home when I go visit the pups.  Listening, observing, and absorbing everything I can from my interactions with others.  Seeking more to understand than to be understood (Covey).  Recognizing the presence within me and letting it influence my actions and life.  This will be my gift; no fancy wrapping paper or bows, just a simple commitment to be present in all that I do.

When we look back on our lives, our strongest memories are not the presents or things we received as a gift, but rather our relationships with people who made an indelible impression on us and whose memory we still carry with us.   Yes, in all likelihood they gave us presents, but they also provided us with something vastly more significant; their time and presence.  Those were the true gifts, and the ones we will treasure for the rest of our lives.  

May the holidays bring you happiness, love, and the joy of family and friends!  God bless!