The Gift of Presence: Slowing Down and Sharing Gratitude

Bouquet of Flowers

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. – Audrey Hepburn

The month of December is a month of rushing. Do you sense it, too? It takes only listening and observing the motion around us to understand — with intensity, Americans dart about, making lists, buying gifts, hurrying. I feel the hurry each year, and I never like it.

Yesterday, a friend mentioned she felt herself rushing ahead to the end of the month. She was already ready for the decorations to come down, the cards to go out, the gifts to be given, the company to come and go, and life return back to normal. Then, she said, she knew she had to stop. Otherwise, if she let herself jump ahead to January, 1/12 of her year has been rushed away.

The thought made me pause.

Bouquet of Flowers

The Gift of Presence: Slowing Down and Sharing Gratitude

Is it possible to will the season of Advent and preparations for Christmas to slow down? Could we clear out extra things we do not have time for and make time for the things we enjoy, the people we love who truly matter?

If it is possible, that is what I want to do.

I also want to make time for music, for light and stillness, laughter with friends, meaningful time with those I love.

How? I’m not sure, really, but I am making time for a few of the following:

I love to play music, either on the piano or viola, but in recent months and years, I haven’t made time for much of either. A gift to myself is to make a few moments to settle in and play. Those moments are already making a difference. Playing music makes me feel present. The same goes for other activities I enjoy, like painting or photography. The act of creating makes me a better and happier version of me, and makes the world come alive.

my viola and fireplace, home

December in my house also means the official start of the school basketball season. I want to be present completely. These years and my guys are flying by — they’re growing too fast. And so, I am enjoying my time courtside, and with them in the moments together.

Traditions mean a lot to me. While my family’s traditions may not be complicated, expensive, or showy, it’s in the making of my grandmother’s Christmas cookies with those I love and other dearly held activities we will repeat that we find roots and wings.

Most importantly, I think to truly move with presence through this month, I want to find a way to express gratitude. When we can take time to stop and appreciate one thing, say thank you to someone we love, that act of gratitude brings us to the present. The act of being grateful is an offshoot of love.

In this month known for constant activity, showing gratitude and appreciation to those present in our lives is most important, especially to those we love. The thank you can come as a card, as a hug and a kiss, or as uninterrupted time together at lunch or over coffee. The gift of presence and the awareness of all we have been given can transform this month into one to remember.

The gifts of time, love, and appreciation are the most important gifts we can give, to ourselves and to others.

Published by Jennifer Lyn Art

About Jennifer Writer Author Photographer Artist Corporate Marketer Happy Wife & Mom World Traveler Grateful.

8 thoughts on “The Gift of Presence: Slowing Down and Sharing Gratitude

  1. This is beautiful Jennifer. Thank you! I decided not to do Christmas cards this year because I’m always late and it’s another excuse for a shame spiral. So yesterday I got to watch the boys surf at the beach instead of scribbling furiously. It was pure bliss! What a great mantra for this season – Presence.

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    1. I love that you’re making time to spend at the beach with your boys. Please soak it up for me! 🙂 Yes, finding ways to let go of the things that bring more stress isn’t easy. Glad you’ve identified one and have already moved on from it. Thanks for sharing, Pamela — and thank you! xo

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  2. Every year I tell myself I’m going to start earlier and get it all done so I can sit back and savor the season; and one of these years I’m going to do it 🙂 Thanks for the reminder, Jennifer. I love having time to meditate on the meaning of the season, spending time with loved ones, creating, and remembering Christmases past. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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    1. Savoring the season and meditating on the meaning. I love that. It is so hard, but at least keeping Presence at the front of my mind is helping. Thank you, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  3. Thanks for the inspiring reminder. This year’s season, while promising to be more joyful, will also be more hectic. My daughter and her family, who live in Austria, will be home for Christmas this year. The first time in three years. With a 5 and 7 year old grandson, daughter/husband, son/wife and my husband and I – it’s going to be a full house. So much meal planning, cleaning up and scheduling fun outings. It will be difficult to find some down time so this post has particular meaning. Your post is important encouragement to have quiet moments, moments to savor the family with no thoughts of what needs to be done next, moments to rejoice in the probable incidents of minor chaos (: To be mindful of gratitude for precious family ties, and appreciation for them and all the blessings we collectively enjoy is a gift in itself. Happy holidays to you and your family !

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    1. Barbara, this is beautiful. That is the tug and pull of life, I find. With loved ones around, there is extra busyness. It is difficult to stay centered and not rush ahead. Thank you for what you’ve shared, and have a wonderful Christmas season with your family.

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