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Intangible Gifts: Being Present is a Present

My son called me on his way home from work the other day. It is our routine to check in mid-week. During our conversation I asked him what he wanted for Christmas. He responded with, “Don’t get me anything. If I want something I can afford to just got buy it. In typical mom fashion, I pressed on. “It’s Christmas! I need to get you something. How about a new winter coat or a new pair of shoes?” I asked. “Maybe a new watch” I continued. My son reiterated, “Ma! I don’t need anything but you. Give me the gift of time.” I was starting fo get perturbed.  “Oh Martin, you can have all the time you need but I need to get you something to put under the tree!” He proceeded to school me. He explained that his life was busy.  He didn’t want to collect things but wanted to make memories. Millennial wisdom takes on old fashioned values…the gift of presence. He told me how I had given him his present already. And added, how much he appreciated my support. It wasn’t something that could be wrapped or put under the tree. It was the gift of time and moral support! And then he explained, how in a simple lunch meeting I had calmed his tensions just by being present. 

Let me explain. My son works hard to move up the corporate ladder. The other day when I met him for lunch he appeared frazzled. A mother knows something is wrong with her child. Yes, I understand he’s almost 25 years old but he’s will always be my child. I asked him what was wrong. After a little discussion he explained that he was stressed out because he was up for a promotion. He had deadlines and the usual pressures of life. He regularly puts in long hours but recently took on more responsibility and had an impending interview for said promotion. He asked me, “What if I don’t get this? What if I fail?” I explained, in my typical pearls of wisdom mom tone, “So what if you fail. Everyone fails at some point. What’s important is that you tried. And that you’re honest and hardworking!” With that pearl placed, I continued, “I love you and am proud of the young man you have become.” I added that I admired his drive and ambition. We talked about breathing exercises and grounding. I told him to go work-out to blow off steam, too. The last pearl placed was to have faith. What’s meant to be will be! I’m a firm believer in that statement. Sometimes it’s our unanswered prayers that are the best life lessons. (That’s another topic to be discussed later.) A hug and good luck ended our lunch visit.

My son reminded me that being present is a present… Presence is a gift! He brought me to tears during this conversation. For me, that lunch date was just typical mom advice and I had no idea how much it meant to him. I may have given him the gift of time and my mom wisdom but he gave me the gift of being appreciated. I’ll still purchase something for him to unwrap but those gifts are fleeting unlike the intangible gifts that can last a lifetime. 

So I guess the moral of my story is not all gifts come wrapped in pretty paper. Some gifts can only come from the heart. These gifts cannot be found under the Christmas tree yet they’re something we can give freely to one another. Gifts of empathy, kindness, compassion and love. Something simple like a lunch date with sage advice can make someone’s life better. Be present and give someone you love the gift of presence during this season of giving. Merry Christmas everyone! May we be blessed with Peace, Love and Happiness. 🌲

Michele Palermo

Michele is a retired registered nurse who spent 15 years in Emergency Medicine. That's where she learned there's a fragility to life. Diagnosed with lupus, after going through a divorce, taught her to be a survivor instead of a victim. With her career shortened by illness she turned to books. She fell in love with the written word as a young child. To her, words convey emotion. Her new passion is writing. As an aspiring author, she hopes to inspire others on this roller coaster called life.

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