Creative Child

Presence over Presents: A Holiday Invitation

by Rebecca Eanes

In a corner of my living room stands a twinkling tree with a bright star atop. Underneath, the presents are far fewer than last year because we made an agreement as a family earlier this year – we decided we’d enjoy more experiences and less things. We (okay, mostly I) wanted memories over materials in 2017, and so we went to amusement parks, concerts, conventions, and plays. Still, there are toys under my tree this year, and I count my blessings as I put each wrapped gift in its place. How much longer will there be toys underneath my Christmas tree?

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I came across a picture the other day. My toddler son stood in red footed pajamas and a Santa hat in front a different twinkling tree in a different house, smiling ear to ear, and I was reminded yet again that these years are so fleeting. What ever happened to those pajamas? Where did the years go? My heart lurches in my chest just a bit as he stands in front of our tree now at five feet tall, and I can see the young man in his features and yet still see the toddler in his eyes. This pre-teen boy has just stopped believing in Santa but doesn’t quite want to say it aloud because it feels to him like letting go of childhood, and he’s not ready to let it go just yet.

Neither am I.

I don’t want to dwell on the amount of Christmases I have left with my children before they aren’t children anymore. I don’t want to dwell on the fact that I may only have one or two more Christmases where my kids still ask for toys. I don’t want to dwell on the days of the red footed pajamas either. There was sweetness then and sweetness to come, but I don’t want to miss the beautiful and joyful moments of today. I want to be present this Christmas. I want to see their big-kid faces light up with excitement. I want to hear their laughter and laugh with them. I want to join them in their worlds because right now, I’m still invited into it.

My youngest son is 9, but he looks like a middle schooler. As we watched a movie together last night, he held me on the couch in much the same way as I used to hold him. He cradled my head against his chest as I lay against him. “Love ya, mom” he said. The sweetest words. I could’ve easily missed that moment. I could have been distracted, and sometimes I am, but this tender moment with my boy strengthened my resolve to be present this holiday season.

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I want to extend an invitation to all the parents reading this – an invitation to join your children in their worlds. It’s an invitation to slow down. An invitation to let things go, to listen to your heart, and to hold them a little longer. An invitation to be childish again for a little while. This is an invitation to put down phones and hold hands instead, to look into eyes instead of screens. It’s an invitation to release your regrets and set aside your worries so you can fully live and love in the now. I’m asking you to give your children valuable presence. I bet it’s the most sought after gift this year.

Wishing you the happiest of holidays. #presenceoverpresents

Rebecca Eanes, is the founder of and creator of Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond. She is the bestselling author of 3 books. Her newest book,Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, is more than a parenting book, it's a guide to human connection. She has also written The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parentingand co-authored the book, Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide to Putting Positive Parenting Principles in Action in Early ChildhoodShe is the grateful mother to 2 boys.


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