The Present of Presence

The holidays are over. Whether you “buy” into the obligatory gifts of the season or you adamantly refuse to support commercialism for the occasion, the entire “gift giving” has given me pause. I admit it, I am a “bang my head against the wall looking for a gift the family members will like.” Inevitably, (the ones out of state) return it, regift it or donate it. I don’t know if this speaks to my gift giving skills or our lack of need.

I usually “theme” my gifts. Last year my theme was a way to be nice to the environment by not using sandwich bags or plastic bags at the grocery store. I bought everyone reusable sandwich bags that can be easily wiped and cleaned. All of the gifts I give are gifts I either use and love or want.

I was excited because this year I found a local gal who makes coffee mugs from mason jars, puts cozies around them with color lids on top and adds a resilient plastic straw. These are just the size of a medium or large coffee. I wrapped these mugs in an insulated shopping bag for freezer or cold items.

After feeling proud of myself that I actually got the gifts out the door and sent, and the gift were ones I loved, I scheduled a lunch with a friend; I was ready for some chat time!

Many people have these fabulous fitness calculating watches now that also alert them when their phones are sending messages. It is not enough that we are accessible 24 hours a day by phone or tablet, we now can not even put the phone or tablet on mute and enjoy a lovely lunch with a friend. I was so happy to be coming down from a busy season and to be able to spend time just chatting and being a person, yet she kept looking at her watch. When I asked if she had somewhere she needed to be, I thought this was logical as, obviously she was concerned about time, she said that no, she was simply reading her messages. Then, she got two that were so funny she just had to respond.

I was incredibly disenchanted with our lunch to say the least. I did not feel like she was present. That is when it occurred to me, no matter how amazing the practical gift I sent, the family members would be happiest if at some time in the year I could make a trip out to see them and be present. I would have loved from my friend if she would have given me her attention for that one hour and been present.

I stopped and took a breath.I looked around and noticed that there are many opportunities to be present in the lives of those around us that we simply miss. The family at the restaurant table where each individual has their own electronic device, yet little children start wanting more than anything the attention of those around them.

I cannot wrap up my gift. I have decided on what I am giving though, each year. I am going to give the gift of presence. I am going to look at what my nieces are drawing and ask them questions about the drawings and colors. I am going to ask about the dreams of my siblings and the sacrifices they are making. I am going to talk to my mom about her quilts and her vision for the latest creation. I want those that I care about to know, without any doubt that I am listening and that I am interested in who they are and what they have to say.