Giving Presence

This year, perhaps “the present moment” can be your greatest gift.

Funny how we spend our first 12ish (okay, maybe more like 25ish) holiday seasons thinking about presents. Yes, the holiday is multifaceted–love, family, food–but let’s face it: the presents were the focal point.

And then we mellowed a bit. We expanded. Presents were, well…just things. We had jobs—we could buy things. So what were the holidays about, then? Maybe there were kids and then we spent the next 12ish (okay, 25ish) years thinking about presents again. And then maybe there were grandkids. More presents. And by then some of us may have wondered, “is that all there is?”

Because, by then, life had given–and taken–much more. Over time we had come to see that it was not about stuff. It was about the other things…the bony hug from Mom, the way the cat went after the same shiny ornament every year, the scent of apple cider, the solemn, sacred silence of an icy winter morning.

Life has changed us and made us richer, more appreciative of what cannot be bought. And so here we are, aware of the profundity of it all, and yet, despite all this awareness, sometimes the “big moments” feel like a thing of the past. 

But that is an illusion. There are memories, and those are treasures. But they are artifacts. All that truly exists is what is happening now.

What do you see? The austerity of the bare branches–how many delicate shades of brown and gray?

What do you feel? The warmth of winter layers, comforting in their softness.

What do you hear? Perhaps the sound of your own breath, a sound that has been with you longer than any loved one.

What do you taste? Maybe traces of your most recent meal–the spice, the richness lingering on your tongue

And what do you smell? The metallic tang of cold winter air? The absence of things blooming, dormant in their generative rest.

This year, perhaps “the present moment” can be your greatest gift. Perhaps your presence–full, focused, unhampered by distraction, can be the gift you give yourself and those you come into contact with. This moment is all we have—we have no sway over what has passed and no access to what has yet to come.