Christmas Presence


Recently, I stood in the arrivals gate at the Toronto airport waiting to pick up our daughter who was flying home for Christmas. We hadn’t seen her since she left for College in August, so to say we were excited to see her would be an understatement.

As I waited I couldn’t help but notice all of the happy reunions that were happening around me. There were homemade banners and cardboard signs with greetings of “Welcome home”.  There were hugs and tears as people welcomed their family and friends in their arms. At one point, two little girls waiting beside me suddenly burst into shrieks (ear piercing shrieks!) of joy and ran toward a woman who had just walked through the gate.

I was struck by how something as simple as the presence of one person can bring so much joy.

As we are approaching the Christmas season, I wonder if sometimes we make Christmas more complicated and stressful than it needs to be. Rather than rushing through the holidays, distracted by trying to find the “perfect gift”, what would it be like to slow down long enough to notice and take interest in the people around us?

While there is value in the giving and receiving of gifts, I wonder how Christmas would be different if our focus shifted from giving “presents” to offering our “presence”.

In the busyness of our everyday lives, we can easily fail to notice the true needs of our family and friends. The truth is that each of us are surrounded by lonely, hurting, grieving people every single day. It’s easy to underestimate the value our presence offers people around us. But for people who are grieving, stressed and lonely, there is no substitute for true friendship and support.

Regardless of our financial situation, each of us can give the gift of ourselves to people around us. Whether it be something as simple as silencing our phone to play a board game, or driving across town to visit an aging parent in a nursing home, showing up for people is an invaluable gift.

Amidst the busyness of this holiday season, may you take time to consider who in your life could benefit from a listening ear, some encouragement, or simply your quiet presence.

*The brief video clip below is a reminder of how valuable our presence can be to people who love us.