10 Ways To Give The Gift Of Your Presence (The Best Gift You Can Give)

A couple weeks back I shared a quote on Facebook that really spoke to me:

“A child is going to remember who was there, not what you spent on them. Kids outgrow toys and outfits, but they never outgrow time and love.”

I love this quote because it puts things in perspective, and it’s true not only for kids but for all of us. Sure, shiny things are nice and appreciated, but what we all really want is love, and time with the people who mean most to us.

For those of us who are fortunate, the holidays are all about connecting with family—whether that means the family we were born into, the one we married (or chose not to marry) into, or the one we pieced together with a ragtag group of misfits just like us.

But being with the people we love isn’t the same as being present with the people we love. Especially if we see these people all the time, it’s easy to be there but not.

I know, because I’ve fallen into this trap myself. I’ve listened to my boyfriend talk while wondering about completely random, inconsequential things, like when This Is Us will start up again or whether I should cut my bangs.

Or, on my worst days, I’ve held a full conversation with someone while rehashing painful memories in my head or worrying about the many things I can’t control.

It’s human nature to sometimes do these things, but there’s no denying it can make a huge difference for the people we love when we’re fully present with them, and that presence is the best gift we can give. How can we do that? Read on…

1. Take care of your own needs.

This may seem like an odd start to this list, since the point is to be present with other people. But it’s much more difficult to be present when we’re exhausted, overwhelmed, or deprived of the things we need to function at our best.

I know this from recent experience. For a number of personal reasons, I haven’t been sleeping well lately, and I haven’t been getting as much exercise as usual because I’ve felt so drained.

As a result, every time I talk to someone I have to consciously repeat what they said in my head, because my tired brain often interprets their words as something sounding like the teacher from Peanuts. I also have to resist the urge to be short with them, which, I’m embarrassed to admit, I sometimes do when I feel tired and sluggish.

Especially if you have kids, it might be tough to get a good night’s sleep, tonight in particular. But do what you can to take care of your needs. Eat…

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