Viewpoint: Pause for more presence, fewer presents

Body: 

The holiday season is underway. Some fully embrace it and others would rather the season pass quickly. I am somewhere in the middle. Sitting in the mellow glow of light from our holiday decorations in the mornings is a pleasure. Digging out old family recipes and making, sharing, and eating treats I only make this time of the year is a tradition worth continuing. Creating a letter of reflection to send out to family and friends remains inspiring for this writer.

We enjoy getting gifts for our family, especially now our grandchildren. Still, we keep it pretty low-key overall. I appreciate that my husband and I share a similar approach to this time of the year. We stay out of the way of much of the hustle and bustle. It's a busy time, yet not full of unreasonable expectations and overspending like it seems to be for some. It doesn't create stress and anxiety for me. It concerns me to see that it does for others. The focus on materialism is unfortunate too. Peace, kindness, and love are the real deals and doorbusters.

Have we lost sight of the true reason for this season and all seasons? Have we gotten too caught up in gifts that need to be found, paid for, and wrapped up? Is the joy and giving found in many holiday songs and card sentiments still attainable?

It can be if we reconsider the idea of what constitutes the perfect gift. Start by throwing out the word perfect. That part is unattainable. The only perfect that applies to humans is that we are all perfectly imperfect. And that is the way we are meant to be. It is what makes us all unique and interesting, and what makes healthy relationships with our fellow flawed humans worth the effort and worthy of the rewards.

Stop trying too hard to find the perfect gift, prepare the ultimate meal, host the absolute best party. Pause instead. Consider that we already have the best gifts we could ever want. Family. Friends. Health. A roof over our heads on a cold night. Laughter to share. Songs to sing.

For sure, many may currently have challenging times now regarding any of these things listed above, but if you are reading this you have among other things; air to breathe, the ability to read, and a sense of purpose.

Certainly, this season is about giving. Consider how that giving can look though. Give of your time to those who matter most to you. The greatest gift we can give another is simply our full attention. Fewer wrapped presents mean more time for rapt attention, for true presence. People may return gifts that were the wrong size or color, but people tend to hang on dearly to cherished memories of time together.

We can give of our resources to those less fortunate or who are going through a difficult time. A few dollars can buy numerous non-perishables for our local food shelf. Doing some errands for someone who is ill or recovering from surgery warms the heart more than the newest model of the newest technology. Helping someone struggling with an addiction or mental health concern get support is priceless.

Showing kind tolerance to others with views and opinions different than our own spreads the wealth of peace available to us all. It begins and ends with gratefulness. Seeking gratefulness in the current moment is what truly helps us experience the great fullness of life. Never enough becomes more than enough. We cease to strive endlessly for more stuff and instead strive to notice who and what is around us. True gifts come in human and nature made packages.