I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
~ Charles Dickens

At church last Sunday, our pastor invited the youth of the congregation up front for the traditional "Time for Young Disciples." Three- and four-year-olds, seven- and ten-year-olds all came forward bearing Sunday smiles and the energy of the young at heart.
Since we're in the season of Advent, Pastor Dawn asked: "What do we know about Christmas?"

Answers (in this order):
• You get presents.
• You give presents.
• You get a Christmas tree.
• You get presents!
• It's the birthday of Jesus.
• We go to Connecticut.
• Presents!!

The responses sparked smiles throughout the congregation. But Dawn wasn't finished. She'd heard the second response and wanted to hear it again. "You get presents, yes, but what else?"

"You give presents," the second voice repeated.

Christmas Presence
In the coming weeks, as you seek to find the perfect gifts for those you love, consider that what they might want from you are not presents, but Presence--the true gift of Christmas. We are in such a hurry, and not only at this time of year, that I know I can forget to actually be present with people--make eye contact, attentively listen, and seek to know more than what is being said.
What does it feel like to be present? You may have your own answers to this question. In case it helps, here are some of mine:

Be a gift.
Let your presence be the gift: a smile, a ready ear, a tender touch; curiosity that engages reflection; patience; peace; single-mindedness; restful awareness. When your friend, coworker, or life partner asks for a moment of your time, stop your internal dialogue and make her/him the center of attention.

We usually think of monetary support for those in need. What about physical and emotional support? -- a lift to the grocery store; help with the children; comforting words; a personal visit. Drop in on a loved one and bring a coffee cake. Give a parent or grandparent your undivided attention.

Who would rather have your time this season than anything else?

Express appreciation. When I'm fully present, I notice: the special earrings; thoughtful preparations; caring comment; helpful gesture; unanticipated sadness or anxiety; expressions of joy. Say thank you often, and look for unexpected gifts.

It is difficult to be present and unforgiving at the same time. Take the first step toward resolving a conflict. Grudges take energy. Grudges weigh us down. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself and others.

Extend love. Be kind. Feel the effects.

This holiday season, recognize each moment as a Ki Moment.
Stop and be where you are. Become fully aware of your ki--your life force. You profoundly influence each moment by being present to it. When you do this, you are giving gifts of which you may never know the full value.

Author's Bio: 

Judy Ringer is the author of Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict (http://www.unlikelyteachersbook.com) and the award-winning e-zine, Ki Moments, containing stories and practices on turning life's challenges into life teachers. Judy is a black belt in aikido and nationally known presenter, specializing in unique workshops on conflict, communication, and creating a positive work environment. She is the founder of Power & Presence Training and chief instructor of Portsmouth Aikido, Portsmouth, NH, USA. To sign up for more free tips and articles like these, visit http://www.JudyRinger.com