The Gift of Presence

There is so much power in a name.

The moment you ask and remember my name, you are starting to get to know me.  When you speak out my name, you give it significance.

Think of some of the people you encounter daily whose names you don’t know – the person begging for food at your gate, the lady with her small child at the traffic light, the car guard desperately hoping you will toss him a R2 or maybe spoil him with half a loaf of bread.


There is power in the name of Christmas. Fights are started over the loss of significance when the ‘Christ’ is replaced with an ‘X’ and the politics can heat up [especially in Americaland] when people insist on saying, “Happy Holidays” instead of using the dreaded ‘C’ word.

“Put Christ back into Christmas” we say, especially when so much of what the holiday has meant to so many of us seems to have been usurped and overrun by flagrant commercialism and the head first dash towards debt.

But the idea that God left the comforts of heaven to come down and appear in human form and live among us. That He experienced a taste of what it is to be hungry and cold and let down by His friends and even betrayed by those around Him.


What if we decided to look at this Christmas a little differently? Especially if you’re a parent, this could be an excellent opportunity to teach your children a profound life lesson that can affect them for the rest of their lives.

In a time that screams at us, “THIS IS ALL ABOUT ME!” how about we look for an opportunity to make it about someone else?

Choose one of the ‘nameless’ people in and around your life and create a moment to spend time with them. To learn their name and possibly hear a little bit of their story and share some of your own. Perhaps you could figure out with them what a helpful Christmas gift would be and then on Christmas day, take a meal and go and hang out with them and eat together and give them your gift. But more importantly you are giving them your presence, while acknowledging and celebrating theirs.

Imagine if your child got to choose which person this was and help you pick out presents that feel helpful. And then on the day sit with you and the person or family you choose and be a part of their conversation. How would that not transform them for life and give them a deep taste of what Christmastime can truly be about.


That is what my mom and I and eventually a much larger number of people used to do each Christmas day – although that was more focused on making a number of food bags and gifts and distributing them to homeless people in our area.

But that is what my wife’s sister and her child are plotting for this Christmas. To take a meal and a gift and find someone whose name we don’t regularly acknowledge and see if they can sit with them, eat with them and share some Christmas story time together.

What creativity will you employ this Christmas to make it more about ‘Presence’ than about consumerism, gluttony, compulsion and debt? I would love to hear your ideas in the comment section below.

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