Presents and Presence

I live my days trying to focus on contentment and not looking for “things” to make me happy.  But, I’m not gonna lie…at Christmas, I love presents!  In fact, if I were to admit it (here for the whole world to see), presents are in fact, one of my favorite parts of the holidays.

I think it started with my childhood.  I grew up in a wonderful home ~ full of love, security, and all the necessities for living.  But, at Christmastime, I got a “Santa” gift  that was over and above anything I really needed.  In fact, it was without exception, something that I just really wanted with all my heart.

My most favorite childhood gift of all time was this little brown desk (and my first digital clock!):

rita christmas

(Christmas circa 1979)

This picture in no way indicates how excited I actually was.  I think my dad missed the picture op where I was squealing and jumping up and down…

After I received it, I parked myself behind it for years.  It was there that I lived in my dream world of being a teacher/ insurance salesman ~ carefully doing lesson plans, spelling lists, and configuring grade point averages and sales with my Texas Instruments calculator…


Fast forward to 16 years ago.  My dad had passed away in November, so my mom decided to come spend Christmas here in Canada with us.  That year was a difficult one, obviously.  I remember in the fog of everything, we did enough Christmas baking to feed an army.  The problem was, there was no army.  We ate it all.  My husband and I are still trying to lose that weight we gained…

However, that year was a start to a wonderful Christmas tradition:  My Mom.  She would arrive every year sometime in December and stay for  3 weeks.  She helped with Christmas shopping, wrapping, baking, entertaining, envelope addressing, and coffee drinking.  Of course, she also came armed with a suitcase full of gifts for the family.  Precious, precious memories…

Christmas 2003

(Christmas with Mom, 2003)

That all changed 7 years ago when she got remarried…then was diagnosed with dementia.  Mom’s days of Christmas with us are over.


I admit, Christmas is a bit bittersweet for me now.  In my heart, there is always this little “ache” for my mom.  I try really hard to still think of fun traditions to do with my family.  But I still miss her.

Last year, I realized I missed not only her presence, but her presents, too…


{Last year} We just couldn’t figure out what, in fact, we were going to actually purchase for the boys.  Their wish lists are a little more pricy than Hot Wheels cars!  We finally figured it out what {we could afford} to buy a few days before Christmas.  I don’t usually leave things to the last minute, but we were at the 11th hour by that point.

Little did we expect a storm would put out our ferry service for 2 days in a row.  We couldn’t get to town to actually buy the gifts for our boys – or each other.

Christmas morning was a pitiful site.  Instead of gifts under the tree, there were wrapped “notes” telling the boys what they were getting for Christmas, as soon as we could get to town to buy it…

Sad.  Just sad.

And for the first time, I looked under that tree, and missed mom’s presents so much…


I started early this year to prevent the same scenario.  The whole craft fair exercise became our Christmas gift fund.  Last week, I went to town and bought the gifts.    And for the first time in years, I actually got out wrapping paper and bows instead of the used-every-year gift bags.



And the icing on the cake??  We’re going to have family join us for Christmas this year!!  My husband’s parents will be here to share it all with us…

I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!

{And Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this, please don’t think you need to bring a suitcase full of gifts…Just your being here is the best gift of all!}


May the presents you give and receive this year help you to celebrate the best present and presence  of all – the gift of Immanuel – God with us.

And they will call him Immanuel – which means, ‘God with us’”.  Matthew 1:23

My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  Exodus 33:14

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  1. Loved your honesty! I understand about the presents. I love getting presents but haven't received much since the kids came along. It seems it all goes towards family and nothing left for my husband and I. How wonderful it would be to wake up to presents I "want" instead of "need"! Don't get me wrong, we know the "reason for the season" and have always celebrated Jesus' birthday. But oh to have that feeling I had when I was a kid!

    This is my first Christmas since my mom passed this year. She also had dementia and hasn't been "my mom" in a long time. I feel so lonely and try not to spread that feeling to my husband and kids.

    I am happy that you have family coming this year. Life is full of changes and being content and happy is where I am headed! Enjoy!!

  2. It's wonderful to have such precious memories. I find it difficult to be many miles from our families (1750 miles), but I'm grateful to have my own children near. I most grateful for Christ sending his son into this world to be born and die for my sins. The gift of salvation is the greatest of all!

    Even if family is far from us or can no longer visit, it's wonderful to know… “And they will call him Immanuel – which means, ‘God with us’”. Matthew 1:23
    Have a blessed Christmas and enjoy your time with your family and in-laws 🙂

  3. I too miss the excitement of Christmas when I was a child many, many years ago – or even the years when my children were small. The excitement of finding that "perfect" gift and the look on their faces. Well, this year all the gifts are home made since I lost my teaching position at the end of the school year in June due to budget cuts and sub pay is not much. This year just doesn't feel "right", but I don't want to pass that feeling to my family. I have so much to be grateful for – my oldest daughter will be here for Christmas and my youngest and her husband just found out they are expecting their first child (my first grand baby). I am most grateful for so much – and know that the reason for the season is not the number of presents under the tree but the present of His love and salvation. God bless you and your family and Merry Christmas!

  4. I really enjoyed reading your post. If we can only freeze those precious moments in time…But life changes and moves along, and new traditions are made. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    Oh and I feel so bad because I thought I was following you this whole time. I'm following now!
    And my new floor in our basement is peel and stick tile. I likes the look of the faux wood floor instead of tile. But we have used peel and stick tile that looks like tile in our basement bathroom and we love it!

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