I was fairly ill throughout the holiday season. It wasn’t anything serious, just a mutating flu, but as a result, I saw my family in a new light, and realized more clearly who I am in my family. For the first time in their lives, my children awoke to find no presents under the Christmas tree from me on the morning of the 25th. It was the greatest gift I could have given them.
We came downstairs, sat together as we always have, and there was nothing to do but to be together in the stillness of that moment. We talked about what the day meant to us- love, giving, family, and unity were the answers that emerged. It felt like an unveiling, as if the true nature of these kids and our family was being revealed. How I had leaned on those gifts these many years, choosing each one with joy and discernment for what would grow, inspire and support each child. Yet they filled a space of love and connection that had a beauty and purity all its own- that was already enough.
The remainder of the day was filled with a slow and steady burn of love and gratitude, like a high quality fuel that burns rich and smooth. There wasn’t the spike of the gift-giving spree, as delightful as it can be. In its place, was the gift of ourselves: direct, unmediated, priceless. In that space, I felt my children’s love for each other and for me and the preciousness of our time together; precious for no other reason than our deep relatedness, and that we belonged to each other in that primal way that families can and do.
By doing nothing, I had revealed everything, laying bare the underlying unity of these children and this family. If, as parents, we are present with love and understanding, perhaps the invitation is to do less, not more. Our consciousness is the tuning fork, the nourishment and the gift that we offer our families everyday. And we can yield our children the space in which to discover more of who they are as they touch the unexpected and the unknown. There will be presents again. There are so many moments in the life of a family that we mark with gifts. Perhaps now, when they are given, they will be given with more awareness of and reverence for the essential gift we share: that space of love and connection that asks to be felt, experienced and known at the heart of every relationship and family.