One of our Rising Bloggers, Deanna at The Long Run, is hosting our group this week, and she asked “What would be the best gift someone could give you this year?”
Last week at our Sister Circle we talked about the season we are in, the season of Christmas.
The season I have newly dubbed the “Season of With.” The celebration of the time that God decided to be “with” us in every sense of the word and sent a baby to be with and grow and live as we do. With.
It’s also the season of being with each other. That kind of gets lost in the hustle and rush of shopping and struggling to find just the right gift for each person on our list–a list that seems to get longer and longer–and to stay out of debt. It seems to get harder and harder each year, doesn’t it? Add to that the stress of events and parties and entertainment that is at this time only or you “miss out,” and it’s almost too much to bear.
But y’all, what if we’ve got it all wrong? What if it’s not about Christmas presents, but instead about Christmas presence? Being present, really being with someone, much in the way that God was and has been ever since. Walking alongside some, ahead of others leading the way, and clearing the path for those to come. Christmas presence. The kind of being present that we should aim for all year long.
The other day the question came up: “What would be the best gift someone could give you this year?”
Ahem. Really? Well, since you asked.
I thought about the closet upstairs I’d love to have converted into a small library. Fleeting visions of my back porch becoming my haven, my own little spot, came and went. Books? Always. Just sign me up for a book of the week club from any bookstore you choose (but I choose the book!). Boots? You can never have too many, can you? A new bag from ABAN? Candles from Prosperity Candles? Anything at all from Lisa Leonard–oh my YES!
all of these fall flat when I sit and think about them. What I really want and crave this year, the time of year filled with darkness, very different this year yet again–what I want most is with.
It seems so selfish. More so than the library upstairs or the back porch nook. It is so hard to admit this is what I want because we live in a world where we are encouraged to be “strong” on our own, not to need anyone. Vulnerability is a mess, isn’t it?
But yes, I want with. I want to sit over a cup of coffee or hot cider or ice water and visit and laugh and be in that moment. I want to listen to someone else’s stories and have them listen to mine. I want to share my dreams and be encouraged and encourage another’s dreams. I want to laugh until my sides hurt and cry until I think I have no more tears. I want to talk about the pain and the brokenness and grief and the joy and the happiness and the crazy mixed-up life of living betwixt and between the two. Or sometimes both at the same time. I want to ignore all of the clocks and demands of everyday life and act as if we have all the time in the world to just be.
I garnered the courage to be honest with myself when I sat with my sisters yesterday at our Sister Circle. We were talking about living this life with others. How we cope, how we get past our disappointments, how we love and get through the holiday season, how we celebrate it and find joy in our days. P shared that it’s hard for her, because her grown children automatically expect things of her. That she will be the one to cook. That she will buy them all a gift. That she will always be around. She said that what she would treasure most this Christmas or any time of the year would be for her daughter or son or grandchildren to say, “Hey, let’s meet for lunch tomorrow.” She quickly said that she didn’t even want them to pay for the meal. Just show her she mattered by inviting her, by wanting to spend time with her. WITH.
I get it. Bless her heart.
I asked Miss N how she copes with all of the seasonal events and pressures and expectations. She shrugged and in her wise, quiet way that I’ve grown accustomed to, she said, “I just keep on working on being the person I say that I am.”
Wow. That is a beautiful goal. For every single person. Every single day.
And so it was that the words of these precious women I love reinforced in my heart that the best gift we can give someone else is to be with them. Invite someone to join us for something–anything–it doesn’t have to cost money. Ask a friend to join me for a walk. Or lunch. Or whatever. The important thing is the WITH and letting them know they matter. That we choose to be with them. That is the greatest gift we can give anyone.
And the thing is, there are a lot of anyones, someones who need to hear they matter and that we choose to be with them. My friend Mac who is camping out in the rain and cold in the woods each night. Miss N who has family she could visit but chooses not to–haven’t gotten to that part of the story yet. T who came back the other day and shared that she is trying to get custody of her son again. The manager at the local restaurant, who works long hours and rarely gets told she’s appreciated. P who just wants her children to want to be with her. The student preparing for finals next week. The young woman who drives by the hospital after work to see her Mama and then drives home to her babies with worry on her mind. The man trying to make ends meet with each paycheck he brings home. There are too many to list. Because it’s all of us. All of us want to be chosen, to know we matter, to feel that someone WANTS to be with us.
So the greatest gift someone could give me this year is the gift of with. And at the risk of giving something that I’d like to get for Christmas, I daresay it’s the greatest gift I can give as well. I know that it brings my heart a great big burst of joy when my sisterfriends choose to come to Sister Circle and be with each other. It makes me sad that they might not have this outside of our group.
As we go through our days during this season and the one coming up next, may we make the extra effort and take the extra time to be with the people in our lives and those on the fringes. May we go out of our way to let people know they matter and that they are loved. And may we step outside our comfort zones and be with folks we might not otherwise have known. I am convinced that the “with” of this season and of all of our days is the greatest legacy we can leave behind.
May we all get messy as all get out today, and this whole holiday season, and everyday–loving on folks. I can’t think of a better mess to be in. And what better way to share Christmas everyday? Merry Mess-Making! Go be with.
Love to all.
Thank you, Deanna, for a great question. To read more stories about what others want the most this year, hop over to her blog and check out the links.