I know it’s cliche’ to say that Christmas is more about presence than presents, but this year I experienced the truth of that like never before. As we age, family begins to experience conflicts especially around the holidays. It’s hard to be everywhere we are expected to be and even want to be. In modern society, this is more stressful than ever because there are more “step” relationships that multiple the obligations.
Yesterday, from where I sat, I could see each person climb the steps to our back door. Someone would announce who had arrived and a bit of relief and excitement would spread through those already gathered. Not once was there a single moan or exclamation of “I hoped they wouldn’t make it.” I was thrilled with the presence of every single person who “made it” for Christmas.
The time for Christmas presents has passed, but the opportunity to give our presence continues. The week between Christmas and the return to school and work after New Years Day is an excellent opportunity to continue to give presence. Perhaps for the first time ever I was unable to make my extended family gathering on the 23rd. I hope this week I will get a chance to spend some time with those I don’t see much more than once a year.
I know that at some point during Christmas vacation parents begin to pray for school to start again. Let me assure you that doesn’t happen with grand parents. Our home will be open and available to anyone whose parents need a break for the next week or so. We can never have enough presence.
I heard someone say yesterday that there is “always next year.” That’s just not true. At some point the “next years” end and so does the chance to share presence. I doubt many of us will wish we had spent less time with those whose love has blessed us. The season of presents is over for another year; the season of presence remains.