My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Presence, not presents.

Usually around this time every year, I write a wish list, of sorts. I usually include both the practical and impossible... everything from fuzzy socks (I got a bunch last year and LOVE them!) to a new coffee pot (thank you, Tracey!) to things like world peace...  find their way to my wish list.

This year, I've got to tell you, it's more about presence than presents. It's about the souls that have touched my life, past, present and future in a Scrooge sort of way that matter to me most.

When I think back to Christmases past, I remember the gifts... the GPS that Ryan got me one year... the rice cooker from Jim and Angie.... the interesting coffee table book that Bryan and Candice got me... and so on... but the most vivid memories are not of the presents. Like I said, what matters most is the presence.

I remember the people, not the stuff.

All those Christmases growing up when Aunt Ginger and Uncle Carl would spend Christmas Eve at our house so they could be there when we woke up on Christmas morning.

Staying up late helping Santa put together gifts for my little brothers and then for my own little boys and then for my nieces.

The time we sang "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" to Grandma Pennington. She laughed.

Kneeling by Jamie's little toddler sized bed on Christmas Eve as she prayed to ask Jesus into her heart.

The Christmas Eve we met Purple Michael at Waffle House for dinner.

Driving around looking at Christmas lights with my boys... it got harder after their dad left because I don't see well to drive at night but it got easier in other ways.

Last Christmas when I was recovering from that awful surgery, having my family come over and celebrate Christmas in my nest with me. I was in a narcotic, pain-filled haze but I know they were there.

Many beautiful, magical Christmas Eve services where we sing Silent Night by candlelight... and I always remember that my kids' "other grandfather", Grandpa Ned, who died in Vietnam in 1969, loved Silent Night. That's what their "other grandmother" told me and I always remind my boys so that they have that little bit of his presence at Christmas.

My boys and I would make ornaments each year for the people in our lives who passed away... so that every year when we hung their ornament on the tree, we would remember that person.

Ever since I became a "Satisfied Single" person, there have been lonely Christmases. I'm always happy to be in my nest. I never, ever, ever, ever try to guilt my kids (or my brothers, or friends, etc) to be with me on holidays. For me, I've never wanted anyone to spend time with me out of obligation... and I've always wanted the people I love to do what they love and what is easiest and brings them the most joy - or the most peace - at Christmas, even if that doesn't include me. I felt their presence, even when they weren't with me.

I've never been a traditionalist. Don't get me wrong, I love traditions - like sausage balls for Christmas brunch and eggnog for decorating the tree - but I don't cling to them so tightly that if they don't happen, Christmas is "ruined". Each year brings it's own happiness and it's own unique qualities and those help us remember those years.

My oldest son is somewhere between Missouri and Texas. He's on a long road trip right now for his job. (If you see him, be sure to give him a hug from his mommy.) He won't be back to his home in Pennsylvania until a week before Christmas and he (more than likely) won't make it home to Georgia for Christmas. It's ok. He knows how to make sausage balls and he has a sweet girlfriend and a lot of love up there.

Two of my brothers won't be with us this year. The same two that are never with us and... that's ok. I wish we could make memories with their families over the holidays but it's ok. It really is. My brother Bryan will be with us this year and I'm so excited to see him! I've never had a Christmas away from my brother Jim. Mama, Pop and Bubba... have shared every single Christmas of my life with me and they will this year too, Lord willing.

There is so much sadness, hunger, hurt and despair in our world. I won't be spending a lot on gifts. I work part time, you know. Yet, I know that everyone in my life, all the people that I love, have a full belly a couple of times a day and a warm bed to sleep in at night. We all have everything we need. We don't need presents. We need presence.

We need to think about the people in our lives that don't need another book or sweater or knick-knack... who just need to know that they are loved, cherished, treasured... give them your presence instead of presents.

We need the presence of a Savior and the freedom to acknowledge this season as being more about him than maxing out our credit cards. We need to remember the gift He gave, instead of worrying about what gifts we are able to give.

We need to give of our gifts and talents, instead of rushing from store to store. God didn't make me a wealthy woman but He gave me a few valuable gifts and I hope they make a difference in this world. You are gifted, too, in your own way. I hope you share that with your world.

More than any Christmas lights, any candles burning, any fireplace crackling with warmth, we need the warmth that comes from loving and being loved.

There is so much turmoil in the world. We won't have peace on Earth for Christmas but we can have peace in our hearts. Be content. Celebrate what has come before, what exists for you now and have the courage to dream about the future... new lives that will touch yours in the years ahead... Find joy in whatever presence you get this year. Presence. Not presents.

Love and hugs, y'all.


Lea said...

I love this post! Yes, Christmas is about the people we love around us, and the birth of dear Jesus. I wish you a very merry and blessed Christmas!!