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It's not the best of times, financially.  My mind has been struggling lately with the enormity of the financial bind I'm in.  Christmas is the worst time of year for business to be slow and drifting through my brain were thoughts of what I might be able to find to put under the tree for the young ones in my world this year.  I was in the shower allowing my mind to drift over the relatively limited possibilities that exist right now.  And a thought crawled to the front and refused to leave.  It almost spoke out loud.  I finally said it, just to get it out of my head, "It's not the Presents, it's the Presence". 

An important reminder for me this year.  2008 has brought trials and tribulations that made us wonder if we'd all be together at Christmas.  It's the week before Christmas now and I have absolute knowledge that we will all be together.  We spent last weekend decorating the tree and the house, all of us.  My children, Mike's children, Mike and I all did our part, while his parents rested on the couch watching "It's a Wonderful life".    What great presence.

I watched periodically from the yard as my boys, who have suddenly become men, carefully worked together to make sure the front of the house was covered with lights.  Mike's children, much younger, watched and directed.  Miss Makayla, age 7, pushed them along.  "Hurry up, I want to see the lights!"  My younger one shot back "Do you want it done fast or do you want it done RIGHT?".  She responded, hands on her hips "I want it done fast AND I want it done right."  My older son laughed and made jokes about how she was awfully young to be a union foreman.  It was in that moment that I realized we had truly become a family.  What great presence.

The children were in charge of the camcorder that day, and I haven't reviewed the video.  I'm sure there are more than a few moments that I'll be sorry I missed.  Then all 9 of us sat down at the kitchen table that is new for us this year.  A bargain I found on craigslist, perfect for our expanding family.   We had to add two more chairs, but this table allows us to sit at the corners so it was fine.  What great presence.

The phrase came back to me this evening, when Mike pointed out he hadn't even shopped for me.  I know and he knows there's no money in the budget for gifts.  And I can't really think of anything I lack.  I told him about my shower epiphany and he smiled.  It's rather hard to explain it just by saying it out loud - it's one of those things you have to spell out.  I pointed out what a blessing it is for me to have him present in my life.  What great presence.

As I look around my world this Christmas, I know the truth in that statement.  "It's not the Presents, it's the Presence".  The presence of those I love is the best gift ever.  Value every moment with the ones you love.  Make it a great holiday season- and be grateful for the Presence.

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