Oh, the joy of having somebody fully in the moment with us, hanging on every word, entirely focused. This year, we can give the ultimate gift – our time and full presence.
I am lucky to have had the most wonderful mom in the world, and one thing she is remembered for is how she would greet people who came to visit. It was if every time was the first time she had seen you in a very long while. She would exclaim loudly, “Jennifer is here!” and rush toward me in grand embrace – even if it had only been two days since I saw her. She was so interested in every little detail of my life and would ask questions to demonstrate interest, even in the mundane. If I told her I fed the kids pasta, she would ask what type of sauce.
That feeling of being so strongly emotionally embraced was an incredible gift. What she gave was her time, attention, and interest. What it felt like was confirmation of my importance as a human being.
We are fortunate when we encounter humans who naturally give in such a generous manner. We all can be one of these humans who spread joy through the gift of presence. What it takes is mindfulness and curiosity. Being aware and uncertain about who this person in front of us is and what will happen next. You read correctly – uncertainty is key to this gift of presence.
Our minds naturally project what will happen next based on our past experience. It is a practical skill that helps us move through the world without having to relearn things all the time. But in the art of gifting presence, it is not helpful. When we set aside the predictions and the certainty, what arises is curiosity and wonder. That is what makes us see the other person with fresh eyes and ask questions we never thought of asking. And that is what feels wonderful for others: our undivided attention and our fascination with this very moment and this very person.
This giving season, consider presence for presents because nothing is more valuable than our time and attention.