Your children need your presence more than your presents. ~Jesse Jackson
The quote above doesn’t just apply to your children, but to all of your important relationships. This goes for your child, your teenager (especially your teenager!), your boss, your friend, your parent – the greatest gift you can give anyone you want to have a better relationship with is the gift of your time and attention. In all of your daily interactions people are practically begging to be listened to. The thing that people want most is to feel valued and important. You can be the one to give them that gift.
So while you are out shopping for that perfect gift and stressing over how you are going to pay for it; also be thinking of ways you can show the people you love how much you care by being present with them. Really listen when they have something to say – don’t be dismissive and say how busy and overwhelmed you are. It really only takes a few minutes to really tune into what the other person is saying and offer thoughtful feedback. You can check your Facebook and Twitter accounts later.
I don’t remember where I read this, I read it a very long time ago and it has stuck with me ever since:
The most important thing you can do for your loved ones is to create many wonderful and cherished memories together.
One of my most cherished Christmas memories happened quite spontaneously:
There was a mix-up on when and where my ex was supposed to pick up our daughter. When I called him he blamed me and angrily told me that I had ruined his Christmas and I should just keep her the whole day then. I got off the phone and was overjoyed – my first Christmas Day of having my daughter all to myself!
I made an excuse to my family about having to go and I drove my daughter down to the beach. Back in those days, I always kept our rollerblades in the car, so we slipped those babies on our feet and had a grand time rollerblading up and down the boardwalk. We kicked them off and went down to the sand and collected smelly beach rocks. Later, we drove home. I threw our sleeping bags on the floor and we ordered pizza, then cuddled and tickled and watched a couple of movies together. Best Christmas ever!
I have no idea what I gave my daughter for Christmas that year – and neither does she – but 15 years later we both have very fond memories of collecting smelly beach rocks on Christmas Day. Maybe you can find that really special gift at the mall that your loved one will cherish that long, but most likely the things they will remember the most are the times when you gave them your presence – not your presents.
My honey and I have practiced this philosophy for our entire marriage: we don’t usually give big, expensive gifts to each other. Instead, we use the money we would have spent on gifts and buy an experience – like a long-distance hiking trip or a weekend at a B & B. Usually, if we do give gifts; they are gifts that will support the experience – like hiking gear.
I attribute this philosophy of giving more of my presence than presents as the reason why my daughter and I have always enjoyed such a close relationship – even through the teen years. I always made time for my daughter and made many sacrifices in my career and personal life to do so, and it really has paid off in huge dividends in the kind of relationship I enjoy with her today.
I hear most parents complain about how hard the teen years are, but that was not the case with me and my daughter. All of my daughter’s friends enjoyed hanging around me because I would take the time to listen to them – without judgment and genuinely caring about them. Unfortunately that was something they weren’t getting at home.
Think back to some of your most cherished memories: Do they involve presence or presents?
It’s time for you to finally get love RIGHT!
If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy, Alone for the Holidays Survival Guide.
I would love to hear from you! I value your and appreciate your input, please post your comment below.