It’s December, and I’m not Christmas shopping. No scribbled list of stocking stuffers, who wants what, sizes and colors, links listed.

Our family is trying something new…presence for presents.poinsettias

Our four kids are older now, which means we are spreading out with miles–and an ocean–between us. So, we agreed that instead of putting money into presents, let’s put money into presence. What better gift than being together?

We aren’t skipping Christmas altogether like the couple who traded Christmas for a cruise—“Christmas with the Kranks” movie. We found the perfect Christmas tree yesterday. We’ll string popcorn tonight to a Christmas movie and hang up the garland with red bows. We’re hanging on to the Christmas traditions that give us an excuse to be together.

We’re just skipping the presents, putting our money and time into presence.

Even though my kids are young adults, I’m a little worried if they’ll feel disappointed on the 25th when there are no surprises under the tree. Maybe I’m more worried about myself. Is it okay to give up the challenge of finding the perfect gift, the Christmas Eve anticipation, and Christmas day excitement? The presents are fun. I don’t have anything against them.

But I think that I’ve let the present part of Christmas get too big. What I most enjoy about Christmas is that we are together. And I’m not giving that up.

We won’t be sitting around a tree with our hot drinks wondering who was so naughty that Santa Claus skipped our chimney. We’ll be enjoying each other’s presence instead of presents–somewhere a little more enchanting than West Texas.

This year is an experiment. We’ve got some traditions in transition. But so far, so good.

The present pressure is off. Will he like it? Does it fit her? Are we spending too much? I can’t find what he wanted. Will this be good enough? Did I get enough stocking stuffers? Can that be delivered in time? Ooops, I forgot that was on his list.  

The presence is on. I can enjoy the people around me without thinking about one more store that I need to get to. No list making. Dollar crunching. Aisle scanning. Web surfing. Want to meet for coffee? I’m on. Iced in for the weekend? Okay with me. I feel like I’ve been gifted presence for the whole month, not just the 25th.

This gift of presence is nothing new. God’s presence was the most eagerly anticipated and celebrated gift for generations. The gift of Jesus was announced with the name, “Immanuel—which means ‘God with us’” (Matt. 1:23). And His last words before leaving were, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”. (Matt. 28:20). The Creator–who could give anything–gave His humble presence.


It’s a good present.

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