The beautiful season of Christmas is here, and it really is a time of joy. It is also a time when the commercialization of Christmas causes many of us to feel like the Little Drummer Boy - we have no gifts to bring that would be "fit to give our King" (or someone else on our Christmas list). It easily happens that our focus on giving presents can displace our greatest gift - the gift of "presence."
Luke's Gospel describes the scene of Christ's birth. Shepherds were told of Christ's birth - they were the first invited to the celebration of joy. They were the first to arrive at the manger where they found Mary, Joseph and the Christ-Child. Surely the angels knew that these poor shepherds could bring nothing but their presence, yet it was their presence that the angels sought.
The gift of presence from those who could give nothing else preceded the majestic gifts of the Magi. Could it be that the greatest Christmas gift is that of presence? Most of us do not remember what gifts we gave or were given from Christmases long past. We do remember our loved ones who shared the days with us - as well as the loss of those who were no longer with us.
The presence of others in our lives is one of the greatest gifts of the Creator to us. And so is our presence in the lives of others. For some reason, I remember the light of joy that filled my mother's eyes the last time that I saw her alive. It struck me that she was joyful to see me. I had a similar experience with my grandfather. There is a lesson here - while we may feel ourselves unworthy and at times helpless to improve the lives of family, friends, and even strangers, the reality is different. The angels sought out those who could give nothing to share in the joy of Christmas. And so our presence to others, and their presence to us, is the greatest gift of Christmas.
Have a Merry Christmas.