Christmas. How did we get from a celebration that began in a lowly manger to filling our homes with decorations, gifts, and excess? How has this religious day eclipsed all others when it comes to effort, time and spending; where it seems that no matter what we do, it is not enough?

It’s time to forget the presents and bring your presence.

Take a minute to think about the things you treasure the most; moments in time that are entombed in memory. Did any of them come in a box? Or wrapped in a bow? Probably not, that’s because we remember mostly experiences and the people who were present: bringing all of themselves to the world – their strengths, their passions, their quirkiness, their humour. By being who they were — sharing their love, their light, themselves.

Terry Real, author of How can I get through to you?, advises the importance of the gift of attention; especially at Christmas.

The dictionary defines “attention” as the act of attending. To attend to something is to care greatly for it – to be present. According to Terry, attention is an abundant resource available to all of us. And because of its nature of being easily accessible, we tend to take it for granted. We forget that attention is as precious as life itself.

Here’s a few tips from Terry:

Employ your gifts! Gifts can be talents. You can have the gift of gab or a musical gift. Gifts can also be intangibles. There is the gift of understanding or the gift of quiet. Think about your unique gifts and how you can use them with intention.

Learn to listen. Everyone has a story and most want to share it. Everyone has something exciting and interesting happening in their life, as well as something painful occurring, and if you ask, showing genuine attention, they will often share it with you

Watch for projections. It is entirely human to bring the past into the present. If you learn how to recognize when the past collides with the present, you will merely notice it and be completely unfazed.

Recognize narcissistic behaviour. Grandiosity is a key indicator. Look for the wounded child within (understand that grandiosity is connected with disempowerment and shame) and respond with compassion (instead of contempt and anger).

Take a moment to breathe. Gently focus your attention on and in the area of your heart. Pretend your breath is flowing in and out through your heart. This will change the way you respond for the good.

People don’t remember perfection and neither will you. It’s like going to a concert or performance — you don’t remember all the words you hear — but somehow you take away an impression with you. You remember the emotion. Slow down enough to dance with the people who are around you. Slow down enough to pay attention to others, share your gifts, and allow them to share theirs with you. Note: This means turning off phone and avoiding task-based activities (this is not true attention or presence).

(c) Fel Stewart, 2018