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I remember being a young adult at Christmastime. My parents were great at picking out a gift or two that really meant something to me. They knew me well and could anticipate wonderfully what I would enjoy receiving. But in those years, something profound changed in my life. I became aware of how much more I appreciated them than the gifts they gave me.

From then on, I started spending more and more time with my parents. I would hang out with them regularly, even though I was not living at home. I loved their abiding presence in my life. My mom has since passed, but I still connect with my 94-year-old dad every weekend, even though he lives in Seattle, and I in Pittsburgh.

Looking back, I realize that their gifts to me as a child taught me to love their presence. As I’ve matured over the years, I have realized that “being with” loved ones is what matters most in life. My wife and I want that deep connection with our own children until the day we die!

God gives us lots of good gifts, but that’s only because he wants his presents to draw us into His presence.

God gives us lots of good gifts, but that’s only because he wants his presents to draw us into His presence. More than anything, He just wants to be with us and wants us to desire His presence in our lives more than anything else He gives us. That’s why He sent Jesus to us—to be with us. While the giver of the gift is always greater than the gift given, in Jesus, the giver and the gift are the same.

Jesus desires that we approach Christmas within our own families in this same manner. Perhaps, we all need to learn that what matters most at these intensive holiday moments is our presence to one another. There are so many opportunities to be with each other as we decorate, bake, clean, wrap, watch movies, etc. Or we can be busy and just get things done. It’s our choice. So, consider deeply the opportunity to connect with God and your family during Advent and just watch how “presence” changes everything for the better.

by Michel Therrien
Dr. Therrien is the President of Preambula Group

5 Days of Christmas Presence (not presents): This blog links to 5 different ways to bring family closer together during this special time of the year: