Presents vs Presence

This is it. The final weekend for gift shopping has arrived. Are you done shopping? If not, do you look forward to everything that comes with the final weekend of shopping? Does it put a smile on your face or a frown?

Here is another question to ask yourself. Can you afford the gifts you are planning to purchase? The Phoenix Business Journal had a short article on November 25th stating that Arizona is in the top 10 when it comes to consumer debt. The article said that 20% of Arizonans spend more than they make.

So, before you walk out the door to do more gift shopping, here are two things to think about. (1) Don’t spend money you don’t have. (2) Unless this shopping puts a smile on your face that will remain through all the stress of finding the right gifts, waiting in lines, finding a parking spot, finding your car when you’re done, etc., you may want to find another solution.

Here is an idea, just a thought…take it or leave it.

I believe the value of “presence” is becoming scarce in our society. When you go out to eat, you often see people connected to their telephones. They are connecting more with people via their telephone than with the people they are sitting with. Why not give the gift of presence?

We did this several years ago with my parents. I forget what we called it – the year of culture or a year of entertainment. We gave them a coupon as their Christmas gift that allowed them to select four events in the upcoming year that the four of us would do together. This allowed us to spend money for their gift throughout the year and allowed us to spend valuable time together. It also gave my husband and me the opportunity to go to events that we would most likely not have done otherwise.

For instance, my Dad wanted to see Roger Williams, aka Mr. Piano. Honestly, I had no idea who this guy was. That said, I have to admit that I wasn’t really excited to spend money on this; however, we committed to giving the gift of entertainment to my parents and this was one of the shows they wanted to see. The four of us went and my husband and I enjoyed it. We actually did know some of Mr. Piano’s songs. A couple years later, Roger Williams passed away. Greg and I would not have seen his show had it not been for this gift to my parents.

The gift of presence is a great gift that you can, and should, give year-round, not just at holiday time. When you spend time with a person, really spend time with that person. Do you know what I mean? Put the phone aside. Shut off the television and radio. Talk. Laugh. Or watch a movie together and then spend time together when it is done talking about it, sharing your thoughts.

This idea can be altered in so many ways – a gift to one show, a monthly afternoon of board games together, a special meal that you prepare for someone, etc. One year I surprised Greg on Christmas morning by making cinnamon rolls for him which was one of his family’s traditions. (You can see from the picture he enjoyed the rolls!) Be creative. Enjoy the smile you bring to the other person’s face and enjoy the smile it then brings to your face.

by Michele Spear