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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.

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