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Christmas presents – it’s a spelling mistake

At this time of year, people can be overheard asking others what present they would like for Christmas.  I think there’s been a mistake, a simple spelling mistake.  I think the word is ‘presence’ not ‘presents’.  I think what we need to do is get ‘present’ and give the gift of time.

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. 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.

Ask anyone about their favourite Christmas memory and few will talk about the pace or even the gifts they received. Many will say, the wonder of their children’s faces, sitting by the tree, writing cards by the fire, sharing laughs with friends, baking holiday treats, checking out the neighbourhood lights, walking in fresh snow, crisp cold mornings, cooking, and eating, greeting arriving visitors at the airport, watching holiday movies….

Few will say, rushing around, spending more, sleeping less, figuring out what to buy, trying to find a parking spot….

My memories of my father who is not here at Christmas, are not of what he bought for me, but of putting up the multi coloured house lights, 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, breath, have lunch with someone you love, take the joy and spirit of the season to heart and you will be well on your way to what matters most.

And for those of you, who say there is just not enough time, 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”.   

Make a few changes this year and you may only have to return one thing – the love and friendship that comes your way.


  1. Marilyn
    Posted December 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Bingo! Right on Linda! Thanks for the reminder! Your words of wisdom came at just the perfect time for me! How is it that you just enter my life at the perfect times! I always love your ‘presense’ in my life!

  2. Posted December 10, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I love this Linda. I am heading to England on Monday for a funeral. Very last minute. A very special Aunt passed away. I was supposed to go visit her a couple of weeks ago and she had a turn for the worst and they asked me to postpone…. Christmas this year will definitely be about “presence”.

  3. Posted December 10, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Hey Linda
    Thanks for sending me your wonderful words.
    After losing a few close people in my life that changed me as a person.
    In the end we only have those we cherish now by our sides. My goal is to cherish a few more every year!

  4. Michele
    Posted December 10, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Spot on Linda and beautifully phrased!

  5. Matt
    Posted December 10, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    I agree 100% Linda. It’s not about the gifts received, but the gift of family, friends, a warm place to call home, etc. Loved reading what you had to say.

  6. Janice
    Posted December 16, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    So true. Linda..It’s really nice to see that you are writing and that your writing is so profound.
    I believe what you have written. And that is the message I am giving to people this year…it’s about getting together not presents. Glad to see that others, namely you, are on the same page as me. With Appreciation, Janice

  7. Ian
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Excellent Linda. There goes your present out the window. Just kidding. I never bought one.oooo what a surprise. Anyway. fabulous writig. Loved it.

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