As the holidays begin with gatherings and gift-giving, we remember those in our lives who have touched our hearts, helped us learn greater lessons, and those who might be at a distance, or perhaps are not with us this year.
Deep within the heart of each of us is a yearning for presence and connection. It is true that our friends, family members and ancestors have all had an important part in our lives through lessons, life-giving energy and contribution to who we are today.
I believe the greatest gift I can conceive of having from anyone is to be seen, heard, understood and touched by them. The greatest gift I can give is to see, hear, understand and touch another person. When this is done, I feel contact has been made. ~Virginia Satir
For children, family members and friends, the need for connection, acknowledgement, the sharing of talents, good food, stories and conversation help to create fulfillment of this need. Offering your time, expression of your appreciation for what has mattered most, and listening deeply to another has great value for your health, relationships, and sense of well-being. Treasures of personal talents and skills, honoring our family gems, nurturing friendships, being there through listening, spending time playing together, and gratitude are gifts of presence that keep on giving throughout our lives.
Here are fifteen low or no-cost suggestions for presence this holiday season and beyond:
1) Tell stories of your memories as a child to your children and grandchildren. Record them.
2) Include your ancestors in your storytelling by remembering a positive memory and sharing it with the little ones who might never have met them, or do not remember them. Acknowledge the gifts they offered you through a talent or higher lesson.
3) Call friends with whom you haven’t spoken for a while. Catch up with them. Listen, and acknowledge how your friendship, no matter how seemingly distant, fills your heart.
4) Set up a call with family members who are miles away with a free conference call service like Freeconferencecall.com.* Spend time on the call with a focus on a happy memory or appreciation of the year, a gratitude for each person (name the specific actions and meaning), and share a concern or need which another person in the family might be able to assist. *These services are free except for your phone carrier charges.
5) Offer a talent or skill that you have to another person: computer help, yard work, carpentry, pet care, gardening, cooking, sewing, lessons (music, woodwork, artwork, knitting).
6) Write a Gratitude Letter to each person in your home. Read them out loud to each person.* from The Web of Life by Richard Louv
7) Send a Gratitude Letter to someone far away, or to someone you feel needs to know how much they mean to you. Let them know how their thoughtfulness through time has touched your heart.
8) Give your pet a brushing and spend time walking or playing with them.
9) Spend time playing with your children on the floor, do artwork, turn on music and dance, or schedule a special time every week with them to just listen or play a game together.
10) Tell your partner and children 3 things that you appreciate about them before they go to sleep each night.
11) Mail seeds for a garden to a friend. Share gardens and their harvest with gifts of jams, preserves, sauces, etc.
12) Make your children’s favorite holiday foods. Teach them how to make these dishes. Write down the recipes. Give a recipe as a gift!
13) Read a story that you loved as a child to your children or grandchildren. Read and share books with your loved ones of all ages!
14) Listen to your children read, play an instrument, or sing a song. Listen to music together and sing together. Share songs you learned as a child. Encourage creativity!
15) Check in on elders to see how they are doing, especially during the cold months. Check to see if they have power, heat, or if they need anything. Spend time listening, sharing and perhaps bringing nature to shut-ins with indoor gardens and birdfeeders to watch outdoors.
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