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Presence: The most prized gift of all

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Snowman standing beside woman.
Unplugging and heading outside can have some amazing results!

December can be a wonderful time of the year. Getting together with family, friends, and coworkers; celebrating with music, food, decorations, and traditions. It seems as though we look forward to it all year.

About nine years ago, in the middle of December, my husband and I first arrived in northern BC. It was an exciting time (-35 degree temperatures aside): moving across the country and starting a new journey, but also one of the more lonely times in my life. I had left behind all family, friends, and familiarity, at quite possibly the worst time of year to do so. What I remember most about those first couple of months is the people who reached out to us, welcomed us into their homes and celebrations, shared meals and laughs with us, and helped us shovel our driveway when the snow was too deep to drive through. I did not yet know that those people would become some of our cherished friends – our chosen family.

Woman standing beside a huge snowbank.
I’m not sure if I could have shoveled all of this on my own!

However joyful and pleasant the holidays are, they can also be exhausting, stressful, lonely, and financially draining. Strained relationships, distant family, and absent support systems are even more impactful at this time of year.

No matter our perspective, we all have opportunity to be mindful and respectful of our own (and others’) thoughts and feelings about the holidays, and to honour what truly brings us peace and joy.

It’s too easy to get caught up in the fast pace and expectations of the season, when what should matter most is spending time with each other and recognizing those who make our days brighter.

The best memories are not of physical gifts received, but of time spent together with others. Instead of presents, this year give PRESENCE. Here are some ideas:

  • Reach out to that new face in town or at work and introduce yourself.
  • Take the time to reconnect with family/friends – call, write a letter, or make plans to meet and take a walk.
  • Volunteer your time – there are endless opportunities in every community to give back with your time, share your skills and your wisdom with an organization and help brighten someone’s day.
  • Unplug: spend quality time with your children/spouse/friends away from screens. Read a book, play board games, visit the library, play outside, or plan an evening walk to look at the festive lights on display.
  • Take time for self-care. Spend quality time doing things you enjoy, things that make you feel good, and tending to your own mental health.
  • Make and share a meal with someone.

What are some ways that you’ve given presence over presents during the holidays? Need some more ideas? Check out this Kindness

Calendar from actionforhappiness.org.