Presence Over Presents – By Ashley Bright

Our schedules are already jam packed and the holidays roll around and we lose the simplicity of the season. We lose the childlike wonder of laying under the Christmas tree and watching the lights twinkle. But what if we could have it back? What if we could remember the truth behind this beautiful holiday. What if our hearts could be in awe once again?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or is it? This is probably the busiest time of the year. We are hustling and bustling. This party here, that party there. Did you make cookies for the party you have to go to tonight? Did you get a good gift for all the right people? Oh don’t forget to make sure you drop some change in the Salvation Army bucket.
Our schedules are already jam packed, and the holidays roll around and we lose the simplicity of the season. We lose the childlike wonder of laying under the Christmas tree and watching the lights twinkle. But what if we could have it back? What if we could remember the truth behind this beautiful holiday. What if our hearts could be in awe once again?
You see every year I find myself stuck between doing all the things and having fun around the holidays, but when I take a second to listen to the words of the Christmas songs that are ringing from every store speaker, I must pause. “A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices.” And for a moment I begin to ponder. My heart leaps and takes a breath, and then I’m swept away from that moment, because it’s my turn at the register. What might it look like though, if this year we took a second to cherish the season of Advent. What would it look like if we took a moment to return to the childlike awe of Christmas? What if we cherished presence over presents this year?
I work with kids and as Christmas approaches they constantly talk about the things they are getting this year and what they really want Santa Claus to bring them, but how often is that toy you get them broken, or lost less than a month after we open it? When I reflect on my Christmas’ growing up, I honestly remember very few presents that I received, but I do remember the moments. I remember the whole family singing Christmas carols. I remember the sounds and smells of the wood crackling in the fire place. I remember the joyful anticipation of Christmas morning. The memories that truly last and have an impact on us have nothing to do with presents, but only to do with presence.
So this year how can we teach our hearts and our children’s hearts to value presence over presents? What if we cherished each day of Advent for the treasure that it contains? Maybe we study the incarnation for the multifaceted jewel it truly is, or maybe it’s as simple as a Christmas Eve tradition of hot cocoa and the Christmas story? There are so many ways to go about this, but maybe just maybe it’s time to say no to the fifteen parties and doing all the things to lay under the Christmas tree and watch the lights twinkle.
So friends this year I call us all to return to valuing presence as so much more valuable than presents. May our hearts truly feel the joy that has come to the world.

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