At this time of year, people can often be overheard asking others what ‘present’ they might like to receive during the holiday season. I think that there is mistake in the question, a simple spelling mistake. I think a better word might be ‘presence’ not ‘presents’. I think what we all need to do is to get ‘present’ and to give the gift of connection and community.
Ask anyone about their favourite holiday memory and few will mention the gifts they received. Many will recall instead, the wonder of children’s faces, sitting by a Christmas tree, attending a service or seasonal concert, writing cards by the fire, sharing laughter, baking holiday treats, yoga class with a friend, checking out the neighbourhood lights, walking in fresh snow, crisp cold mornings, cooking, and eating, skating, beach walks, greeting visitors at the airport, watching holiday films….few will recall with fondness; rushing around, spending more, sleeping less, figuring out what to buy, arguing with family, feeling unbalanced, trying to find a parking spot….
I have never understood the need to do so much at this time of year and to tire yourself to the point that you wish the holiday season was over, even before it’s begun. What if this time of year was instead about slowing down, and reflecting; about savouring what was wonderful this year, and surrendering what wasn’t so welcome. What if we offered up compassion and friendship to those who are suffering, who are ill, who are lonely, who are sad. And then, what if we looked forward with fresh eyes and an open heart and a dream for better days to come.
My memories of my father who is no longer with us at Christmas, are not of what he bought for me, but of putting up the multi coloured house lights, building me the skating rink in the backyard, cutting down the tree, reading a Child’s Christmas in Wales, and dressing up for his corporate children’s Christmas party. I remember his presence, not his presents.
So, fix the spelling and make a few changes; slow down a little, breathe, connect with community, walk in nature, sit still, embrace the moment, share a meal with someone you love. Simply take the joy and true spirit of the season to heart and you will be well on your way to what matters most and to a more meaning filled season.
And for those of you, who say to me, there is just not enough time for slowing down, Miriam Weinstein, who wrote The Surprising Power of Family Meals, reminds us ‘time is the one thing we do have, no matter how rich or how poor, no matter our circumstances. Time is how we measure our lives, it is the gift we give others and ourselves. We short change ourselves and those we love by our insistence that we have too many things to do. And so, we don’t allow ourselves to do the things we can”.
And if giving gifts is your thing, give a gift filled with good intention, an experience to share, a gift that includes your presence, that promotes wellbeing, that is filled with compassion and connection. I think that if you make even few small changes this year, you may find that you only have to return one thing… the love and friendship that comes your way.
Linda Hunter has spent more than 35 joy filled years as an independent writer and professional event planner, dedicated to service and open to possibility. She aspires to walk a path of grace, to live in the present moment, and to choose love over fear.
Since her arrival on Vancouver Island 22 years ago, Linda has gratefully shared her heart, her table, and her home with her husband, grown children and until recently, her parents. She lives with an open mind and an open heart and is convinced that life is about growing authentic relationships, supporting passion and each other, and celebrating change, however that shows up. Linda can be found blogging at www.livingwithgrace.ca and is looking forward to unveiling her new website www.dyingwithgrace.ca, a site designed to honour those who have completed this life’s journey, and dedicated to providing death events that are heart centred and grace filled.
“We’re all just walking each other home” – Ram Dass