When I was a brand-new parent, my greatest desire was to ensure that my child had the “greatest Christmas ever” and concentrated on providing that through gifts. There is just something about seeing a lot of presents under the tree that builds excitement and seems to guarantee a perfect evening of fun and celebration.
Funny thing was the kids didn’t seem to be all that interested in the gifts after the first day or two. (Okay, at the youngest ages the best thing about the present and what saw the most action was the box!) So I started thinking back to when I was a young child and remembering the anticipation of Christmas: the gifts under the tree and the excitement about what Santa might bring.
I very quickly realized that I hardly remember a single gift that I received in Christmases past. Indeed, the greatest gift that I received in all of those holiday seasons – and the real reason that I was eager for December every year – was the present of PRESENCE.
Indeed! In all of the little plastic toys and hot wheels cars and those awesome “life savers books” that seemed to be a part of every Christmas, the thing I remember most is the reality of sharing life together as a family and with friends. It was a break from school and from the everyday life hustle-and-bustle so that we could Just. Be. Together.
I suppose that’s what I really wanted for my kids, too … and boy, could I have saved a lot of money if I remembered that the most important present wasn’t the latest video game or hard-to-get toy, but the gift of presence.