This week I have a quick and simple message that we all have heard so many times before. But, I still think it is a worthy reminder—one each time shared can reach a few more, adding value to your lives in a new way. 

I encourage you to enjoy to presents this holiday season. But don’t miss the opportunity to give the gift of presence.  

I truly love giving and receiving thoughtful gifts. I fully believe that gift giving is a worthy love language—it can be a beautiful way to acknowledge that we see and know each other. And I love to be seen and known just as much as any other human.

But, I also have participated in and seen the heightened negative effects of consumerism on our society during a time that gift giving is meant to be full of anticipation and togetherness. The financial and mental stress either perpetuated by the belief that you must buy a multitude of gifts and/or search for the “perfect” gift (that often doesn’t really exist). The disappointment that comes with unmet expectations, sometimes even going as far as defining a relationship by the amount of time and effort put (or not put) into gifting. The focus can shift away from the intention behind the gifts and into gathering stuff

Stuff is fun to have, but it is not worth it when it comes at the expense of forming and upholding relationships. As our grandparents like to say, “You can’t take it with you.” 

As you all know, I am a triathlete and a triathlon coach. Our sport includes three different disciplines in addition to a multitude of other factors that go into the process of training and racing. We have a lot of stuff. Getting new gear is very fun and exciting, and it is true that money can buy comfort and even speed. Ordering and wearing matching clothing with your team helps build confidence. And experimenting with nutrition and hydration can improve your pace and overall experience. 

There is no doubt that this stuff can improve our experiences. But, without presence none of it will lead to actualizing your fullest capabilities nor build the most possible meaningful experience in the sport. If you focus on what to buy rather than how to establish a stronger physical, mental, and emotional “engine” you will always be searching. 

Being present will afford you the ability to live a full human experience by being focused and engaged in the here and now, not distracted or mentally absent.

If the holidays are a time of high stress for you, or maybe even a season that you wish was over before it starts, take some time to consider why. If a hyper focus on presents contributes to these feelings, know that you can make different choices in that area of stress. Stop choosing to be distracted or always hurried, saying no to opportunities to love others in real time in order to shop. Consider that you don’t have to spend every last dollar on another gift for your kids and instead of use some of your budget to give back to others. 

During this season you will most likely be spending time with some people and in some situations that are not your favorite. So it is even more important that you are intentional with seeking out time with people who do add value to your life. Give yourself the gift of being present with them. Consider this- would you want a gift at the expense of having time with the gift giver? Would you want someone to have to neglect donating to someone in need in order to buy you more stuff? 

Traditions can be so memorable. And presents can be an important part of traditions. But more than ever humans desire our undistracted time. We all desire connection. 

We love presents and we desire presence. Give and ask for some this holiday season. 

Merry Christmas to you.