A great leader also has the ability to make people an inch taller in his presence.
N. R. Narayana Murphy
Throughout this Christmas season I have been given many gifts that did not need to be opened. They came in the presence of family and friends and time to visit with many we have not done so in years. Our time together gifted us with the sharing of great memories and future hopes and dreams. These are truly the gifts that will last throughout the coming year.
The presents we are given will certainly be appreciated but many will not be remembered several years from now. The memories of the family gathering together to celebrate one another’s presence will be remembered. That is why my wife and I put so much energy into preparing the traditional family meal with courses that were served by our ancestors. When our grandkids are served oyster dressing, dirty rice, green beans, and sweet potatoes with marshmallows along with the turkey and ham we will let them know about our ancestors who introduced the traditional foods always served on Christmas Day.
I was blessed growing up with loving grandparents who took delight in spoiling me, not so much with material abundance but by generously giving me their time and presence. They gave me the gift I needed growing up. They listened to me and encouraged me in my outlandish schemes and endeavors, in spite of my many childhood misadventures.
This year I thought about my grandfather and was reminiscing about the one and only actual Christmas present he gave to me. It is the rocker that you see in the picture under our Christmas tree. That rocker was given to me 75 years ago. I cherish it. It rekindles the good memories of my grandfather. He could have become a sad broken man. His wife and baby died in the birth of their 8th child. He was a farmer in the country and had no one to take care of the children. The family was separated, and several were raised by different members of his family. As a child growing up I did not know much about his history. I only knew I loved being with him. He was a very humble, peaceful man. He had an enthusiasm for life. He was very calm and good-natured. I always felt he really listened to me as we sat together while he whittled pieces of wood.
Since he never earned much money, he could not afford to give presents for Christmas. All of the grandchildren would sit on his lap on Christmas Day to receive a hug and get a crisp dollar bill.
In the society we live in today so much focus is on material things. An enormous amount of energy goes into getting the right gift. Unfortunately most people do not remember the gifts they received just last year. I am not saying gifts are meaningless, but traditions and stories create the lifetime of memories.
Christmas Day offers a great opportunity to share “our stories” with family and friends. It is also a good time to give each person the gift of listening and being fully present as each opportunity arises.