As much as I love giving holiday gifts, I am continually reminded of the value of presence as opposed to the material objects of presents. The holidays are a good time to pause and reflect on the value of presence. The time we invest sharing with our friends and loved ones is far more memorable than material gifts.
For example, I make it a point to call my mother every day. These calls are important to her as well as to me. We catch up and share our day, talk about upcoming plans and generally just chat. These few minutes can’t replace us being together in person but in lieu of traveling; these regular calls offer us both presence. I’m surprised how many (adult) children don’t often call their parents or only call them infrequently.
When you think about a gift for a parent, an opportunity to do something together such as baking holiday cookies or wrapping and decorating could be a far lasting memory. Helping out with a home repair from changing light bulbs, cleaning ceiling fans, taking out the recycling, it’s not glamorous but certainly your presence is certainly felt assisting with these simply tasks. Going for ride to enjoy holiday lights is always fun and appreciated by young and old.
Presence is just as relative for children too. One year my niece and nephew decorated a Christmas tree with homemade ornaments that we made together. I think this tree will always be memorable to them when they recall Christmas with their Aunt Sharon. It wasn’t as glitzy as our typical larger tree but it was made with love.
When my dad was alive, my sister Janis used to take him shopping at the mall every year, helping him with his Christmas shopping. He wanted to go in and out of every store hunting for just the right gift. It was exhausting. From each wing of the mall; they would shop till they dropped hauling their bundles and then have dinner together. Now that he’s gone, we know this annual shopping expedition guaranteed them a night together during the holidays. Presence rather than presents. She doesn’t remember his gifts but we reflect laughingly on these holiday memories of their time and wish she had one more of these mall trips.
So as the year draws quickly to a close; I’ve been thinking about the priceless value of presence instead of presents and wanted to pass this along to my AAHAM friends.
Our many AAHAM volunteers find presence so meaningful in their commitment to the organization.