Christmas Presents! Or, Christmas Presence?

Welcome to December, the final, yet craziest month of the year! Along with our busy lives, we: methodically shop for the perfect Christmas tree; buy and wrap multitudes of gifts; mail packages across the world and worry about the bows surviving intact; plan a huge Christmas Day celebration with family and friends; and if we think about it, we might make it to church.

Commercializing Christmas is not new. In 1965, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted. During the film, in frustration, Charlie Brown cried out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus eloquently explained the true meaning of Christmas to us and to Charlie Brown. Where has the spirit of Christmas disappeared to? Are we so deficient spiritually we believe giving and getting stuff will fill the void?

What if I suggested there is another way, a more meaningful way to celebrate and experience the Christmas season. Would you consider it?

Let’s start with gratitude. You are happy to be awake and alive. You have two eyes that can see, and your heartbeat is strong. We have fresh food, drinkable water and a safe place to call home. Our friendships are solid, our kids are healthy and we have gratifying careers. What else do we need? I know it sounds simple, and it is. Being grateful produces contentment with our lives. Being content does not mean we are devoid of ambition. Contentment is defined as a state of happiness and satisfaction.

When we focus on what we have versus what we think we lack, our eyes are opened. We experience the art and beauty in other people and our surroundings. We become solution-conscious rather than focusing in on life’s problems. Our lives take on greater meaning.

Be present for those who can never do anything to repay you. This should be our way of life not only during Christmas, but all year long. The significance of our reach and impact cannot be discounted. When we smile at a stranger or give encouragement to someone who’s down, we offer our presence which is the best present we can give. You never know, you may be someone’s last, and best hope…