The Gift of Your Time

christmas tree lights

Image by swarna rajan - ஸ்வர்ணா ராஜன via Flickr

As we all move to the climax of the holiday season, with the frenzy of invitations to this and that year-end gathering, the steady drone of retailers‘ desperate pleadings for more shoppers, the list of things to be checked off, the installation of lights and decorations, I have chosen to hang back and view it all in quiet and disaffected amusement.  What is it that has crept into my consciousness lately and has made me disinterested in the very things I obsessed about in years past?  I used to start with Halloween decorations around the house and out on the front yard by the end of September.  Then came the Fall/Thanksgiving theme the day after Halloween. And by the weekend after Thanksgiving, our tree was up, lights, tinsel, and all the different versions of Santas collected over the years.  The latter would be prevalent, not just on the tree, but on the piano, the living room, kitchen, and the entry hall.

Just before Thanksgiving, I was chatting with some friends.  We marveled at how much we used to tackle the holiday rush with such gusto.  I have found that over the last 10 years, my appetite for finding this and that for this or that person was beginning to wane. I began to dread the crowded stores, the elbowing and the rummaging for the right color or size.  Of course, the advent of online shopping has done away with some of the dread.  But the countless choices continue to overwhelm me.  As one friend succinctly put it, “I used to enjoy shopping. But now, they’re just —- things. Nothing more. Why bother?”

This past weekend, I looked at our house and decided to put some holiday decorations here and there.  I chose to keep putting up the holiday cards as they came, which I have done

over the years. They serve as connections from all over the globe. They remind us we are a part of a whole community, everyday.

And so, I think about our friends and family.  I think about how I could express to them all our love, our enjoyment of the friendship over the years, and how we look forward to more encounters.  And then it hit me like a ton of bricks, as they say.  Instead of searching for the right but inept present (usually a futile exercise, unless one has limitless credit), I think I’d like to ask of all the people we hold important in our family:

“I need and want, the gift of your time.”  

It’s a precious commodity and a priceless gift we can give to one another.  For the coming year, let’s meet for coffee or a meal, whatever time you can spare. At my place or your kitchen.  At the neighborhood cafe or some restaurant you’ve been meaning to try but did not know who to go there with.  Wherever.  It would be the best gift ever!

My brother in San Diego sent me a text message today, asking me to have a drink with him.  I said I was too far.  He replied, we could Skype-drink with each other.  Get a load of that one, huh?  Anything is possible, I guess, as long as we all want the same thing–to keep in touch, to stay connected to one another.  But it takes a commitment of time and presence.  It’s not too much to ask, I hope.

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