Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 2014: The Gift of Presence vs. Presents

The marketeers bombard us with their best efforts at this time of the year. You are led to believe your Holiday won't be complete without a 70 inch television, a diamond, or a child's sized motorized car. If you don't deliver you have failed as a parent, partner, or lover.

Andrew and Jane 2013
This holiday season encourages us to teach our family about being present for each other. Start by instructing everyone to turnoff their cell phones, ear pieces, ipads, and computers. Collect their electronics in a beautifuldecorated basket and place them under the tree. Announce to your loved ones, the plan for the next few hours is to be present for each other. We are going to talk to one another. Proceed with your planned festivities minus the electronics. The tolerance of this activity helps you gauge whether your family and friends are ready to further learn about the gift of presence.

Rachel and Jane 2013
A present is a material object subject to loss. A gift of presence is a moment in time when someone feels you are there for them totally completely. You are present in their universe. You feel their happiness and pain. You are listening. The gift is you and your time.
So during this season of merriment and giving, pause to think about what would make you happy.  Cost only your time and undivided attention. No, don't tell me. Write it down.

Tim and Jane 2013
Yes, write it down. If you can't tell your children you'd love to have them clean their rooms, help you bake, or walk the dog. Write it down. If you want your partner to be really be present for you, write notes. Place messages under his or her pillow with suggestions and ideas on how the two of you can practice being present for each other

We all shop around for the very best gift for each person on our list. Perhaps, the gift of time, a special meal, or time cleared to do a project with a love one is a better than a gift.  Perhaps it is too late to do this  year with your family, but as you gather around the New Year's table, suggest the gift of presence as an achievable gift.
Tim and Pat 2012

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December 2014: Cookies, Community, and Celebration

Cookie Exchange, Hostess

On the first Saturday in December, an eclectic group of women meet to exchange holiday cookies. Now the uniqueness of this event is we don't really socialize as a group during the year. The organizer and hostess of this Annual Cookie Exchange is Helen. She has opened her home and maintained this tradition for more than thirty years.

Our annual invitations originally came by mail. We confirmed attendance by our land-line phones. Technology changed. We then received an email and RSVP back electronically. An Evite now arrives mid-November to remind us of our yearly gathering.  A map is attached to the invite to download on our phone.  The phone's GPS can talk to us to her home.We have expanded our communication horizons, but the baking habits haven't changed.  The essence of cookie creation is traditional and substantial. The ingredients measured and true.

You are probably wonder why do we come every year? Why do we bake twelve dozen cookies and include a recipe? Why do we search for a food item to make or buy to enhance the potluck brunch? Why do we engage in this holiday tradition with women we don't socialize with, work with, or congregate with at church?

Helen and Emily,
Mother and Daughter
We come to celebrate being women and the torchbearers of tradition. The past, present, and future is represented in this mix.We are writers, public relations directors, special event coordinators, geologists, programmers, admission officers, professors, nurses, structural designers, teachers, painters, etc.  We stand together to toast another year even though we are from different places, stages, and directions.

The air is electric. The energy warms Helen's home.  This group honors a past tradition carried on by today's women who are teaching their daughters for tomorrow.