Presents with Presence


With the holiday season in full swing, there is often an emphasis on finding the right presents for people in our lives. This part of the holiday experience can be really fun and enjoyable, as gift giving naturally fills up the giver as much as the person receiving the gift. From this perspective, we can see how at its core the concept of gift giving is positive and grounded in love. However, when there is an overemphasis on the material part of gift giving, instead of sharing a special present as a symbol of love and appreciation for our loved ones, the meaning is often lost and gift giving can turn into something that creates stress.

One of the ways that gift giving can become imbalanced is when we focus on quantity over quality. As members of a consumer culture, we’ve all received the message that, more is better. We’ve also been taught that the more money we spend, the more valuable the gift(s).

I’ve often watched children during the holidays in a gift opening frenzy, with wrapping paper flying, and presents stacking up around them, yet they keep looking for more things to unwrap instead of really savoring and enjoying the gifts they are receiving. This kind of gift giving reinforces the belief that more is better and detracts from the real gem of meaning that is found in giving and receiving presents during the holidays.

Ultimately, people feel the most loved and loving when they feel meaningfully connected with others. This kind of presence and connection is what really fills people up – not receiving a plethora of material gifts. Overemphasizing presents during the holidays can take away from the kind of presence and connection that truly conveys to people how loved and special they are.

When considering what gifts to buy during this holiday season, think about quality over quantity. Both children and adults may appreciate one really meaningful gift over several gifts that are not as special. One example of a meaningful gift is having an experience with your loved one, like going to the movies, attending a concert, or sharing a meal. With this type of present, you get to be together and a significant part of the gift is your presence and time. You can also look on-line to find lots of other ideas for simple yet meaningful gifts that emphasize quality over quantity.

Finding the perfect present for someone can feel wonderful and bring lots of joy to both giver and receiver. This happens because gift giving is inherently a sweet expression of love. The experience becomes imbalanced when gift giving loses its meaning and we end up over-buying and/or spending countless hours of holiday shopping that leaves us feeling drained and stressed out.

By shifting from the “more is better” mentality to a focus on meaning and simplicity, gift giving during the holidays has the potential to be a very joyful experience. Sharing gifts that convey a sense of presence and connection is at the heart of what the holiday season is all about, and can fill-up both the giver and receiver with feelings of appreciation and love.

With gratitude ~ Erin Stohl


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