My husband and I live deep in the woods where cell phone service isn't great. There is only one spot in our home where I can reliably get a good signal. No longer am I able to walk around the house and chat while I unload the dishwasher, cook dinner, or put away laundry. To avoid the frustration of a dropped call, I must sit down and simply converse. The situation has allowed me to experience the joy of being present.
This holiday season, most people need our presence more than our presents. Though it will probably be from a distance, being present offers the gift of our most precious time, energy, and attention.
11 Ways to Give Our Presence This Holiday Season
1. Let Go of Expectations. Even without a pandemic, the holiday season can struggle to live up to our commercially-driven expectations and standards. This year, instead of thinking about how we wish things were, let's focus on enjoying life exactly as it is.
2. Reach Out. Because of the virus, many people will spend the holidays alone. While we might be tempted to pull the covers over our head until next year, we need to reach out to people. A cheerful conversation remembering old times and looking ahead can do wonders for everyone's spirit.
3. Really Listen. Often when someone is talking, we're waiting to get in our two cents. Conversations require some back and forth, but don't be afraid of a little silence. Instead of thinking of our response, we can take that time to process what was said and respond directly to it by asking questions or clarifying the other person's words.
4. Pay Close Attention. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own world we don't really see the people we care about. Taking time to notice subtle, non-verbal communication shows we're tuned-in to the other person's feelings and gives us a chance to offer genuine compassion and empathy.
5. Cut Out Distractions. We all know the feeling of talking to someone who is clearly focused on something more important than your conversation. To really connect with someone, we must eliminate distractions so we can give them the gift of our full attention.
6. Dive Deep. This year we won't be attending any big holiday parties where small talk is most appropriate. Take advantage of smaller gatherings and phone calls to enjoy some conversation that goes beyond the weather and typical surface exchanges.
7. Make Eye-Contact. Looking at others warmly helps us be present and shows we are engaged and interested. Whether we're meeting in-person, on FaceTime, or a Zoom call, eye contact is a powerful way to demonstrate our care and respect.
8. Choose Mindful Activities. There's nothing wrong with having a family movie night, but it might not be the best way to spend quality time. Try a taking a walk together, playing a game, making a craft, or just talking over some hot chocolate.
9. Tune-In to Your Senses. One of the best ways to be more present is to become aware of your senses. Focusing on what we see, hear, taste, and feel can help us get out of our heads and into the moment. Twinkling lights, holiday music, a glowing fire, and delicious treats are all simple ways to enjoy being present.
10. Lend a Hand. If we listen and pay attention, we often find there is something we can do to help others. When at our home, both of our sons-in-law are wonderful at noticing what needs to be done and quietly doing it. Our presence is always appreciated when we lighten the load for someone else.
11. Give Love. It's been long year. On top of our individual cares, we're all worn out by the pandemic, natural disasters, and politics. The gift of our presence is a sincere and thoughtful way to put more love into the world this holiday season.