I’m giving it one more day before it all gets taken down and gently repackaged into the decade-old boxes that are still holding together by just a few fragments of cardboard. Each ornament will get tucked away until the season emerges again next year. The opened presents will find their way into their forever spots within the house, prepped and ready to be used accordingly. The holiday happened and has concluded, and it’s time to take down the decorations.
This time of the year, our tree always looks so bare. Leading up to Christmas I find joy in seeing more and more boxes make their way under the tree, providing new hiding places for our cats and amplified anticipation for our children. Hidden behind the wrapping paper are presents that we are eager to give to our loved ones in hopes that it lets them know just how special they are to each of us.
But the Christmas season isn’t really about the presents, is it?! It’s easy for us to get wrapped up, quite literally, in what will soon be unwrapped and likely forgotten. Presents have purpose, but I believe that the most important presents aren’t the ones that live under a tree and are unwrapped one given day each calendar year. The presents I speak of don’t get broken or shoved to the back of the closet. In fact, as you prepare for the New Year, let me remind you of three presents that will always be ready for you to unwrap over and over and over again and ones that are welcomed to be re-gifted.
The First Present: Being Present.
Time is a collection of moments and those moments have the power to feel meaningful or feel fleeting. It’s easy to become consumed with what could happen in the future and dwell on what did happen in the past that you forget to be present. Right here, this very moment.
Being present requires you to pause, soak in everything right now offers, and focus your energy on what is happening at this very moment. So, how do you do that? The initial step to embracing your first present is to omit any distractions from allowing you to fully be. Put down the phone. Turn off the TV. Jot down all of your worries so they don’t haunt your thoughts. And then just be.
Take a deep breath and allow yourself to fully feel. Heighten all of your senses. Listen to the heater running in your typical background noise and the breaths of a child nearby. Savor the taste of your hot tea or the granola bar you just devoured. Feel the warmth of the clothes on your back and allow your eyes to gaze around you, soaking in the beauty of the painting right in front of you.
Once you ground yourself in the present, you have the ability to not just embrace this gift yourself, but you can now give it to another. Reflect on a time when you had a meaningful conversation with a parent or a grandparent. Recall a day when you played dolls with your daughter. Remember a time when you enjoyed a meal with your family without an electronic vying for your time, too. Being present allows you to savor your moments and create ones that become life-long gifts.
The Second Present: Being the Present.
I hate to break it to you, but most of the presents that were under your Christmas tree this year will go out of style or likely break after a few uses. They will turn into dust collectors or be items that others will end up returning since they know they will never be used. Presents aren’t always appreciated the way you hoped for … at least not the presents that fit inside of perfectly wrapped box and adorned with a handmade bow.
But there is one present that can’t be returned, won’t become broken and will never be forgotten. And that present is you. You — every bit of you — is a gift. And when you give of yourself freely to another, you become the perfect present that no one knew they needed. And the beautiful thing about you being the present is that you have the ability to be gifts all year long, over and over again to as many people as you possibly can reach.
So how can you be the present? Your phone call can be the welcomed connection a family member so desperately needed. Your listening ear can give a newfound peace to the friend who has been carrying a heavy burden. Your friendship can be the comfort someone needs this very moment. Your kindness can put a smile on the face of a person whose day wasn’t heading in a positive direction. Your laugh can be contagious, causing others around you to laugh like they haven’t this whole year.
You are the present that money isn’t needed for, and yet, it’s the most valuable gift you could ever give. Never forget that you carry this gift always.
The Third Present: Embracing Your Presence.
I may not know everything, but I do know this. You are here for an important purpose and nothing is a coincidence. Reading this blog post isn’t coincidental. The next phone call you receive isn’t by happenstance. The next person you meet is an opportunity awaiting.
Nothing … including you being here, taking a deep breath of life’s fresh air … isn’t without purpose. Sure, you can let life happen to you, but when you let it happen for you, you are embracing the fact that life has purpose, and everything that you come up against can happen for purpose.
Your presence is a gift that you get to enjoy. Knowing and embracing that your presence right this very moment is meaningful empowers you with a special gift … the gift of a choice. You get to choose this very moment who you are going to be, how you are going live and the difference you are going to make. Your presence is a gift, and the choice you make on how to use it has power.
How will you use your presence? How will you allow it to shape the person you become? How will you let it direct your life’s journey? Your presence has purpose … it has power … it has meaning. Embracing your presence is the best gift you could give yourself.
Even though the holiday decorations get put away and the leftover wrapping paper is saved for next year, the season for gift-giving never stops. You don’t need a box. You don’t need a bow. You just need you and your three presents.