The Precious Present

The Precious Present November 29, 2023

An elderly man reflects on his life of precious presents

An old man in the neighborhood was peaceful. Neighbors wondered what his secret was. He was not healthy or wealthy. Having no family nearby, he spent much of his day alone. But he expressed genuine interest in all around him, and he seemed to relish each new day. When a young boy asked him why he was so happy, the man replied that it was because he had the precious present.

The boy wondered what the present could be. Could it be a bicycle? Some other great toy? He wished he could have the same gift.

Over years, the old man offered clues to help the boy discover the secret to what the “precious present” meant:

“The present has nothing to do with wishing.”
“When you have the present, you will be perfectly content to be where you are.”
“The present is not something that someone gives you. It is something that you give to yourself.”

Then one day it dawned on the boy what the old man meant. The precious present was just that—the present, the here and now. It was not worrying about the past or fretting about the future but living with gratitude in the present.

How can we be more “present,” more mindful, more grateful this time of year? In addition to sharing presents, we can offer our full time and emotional energy, our “presence” (with a c). Here are some ideas to do so.

Sharing the Gift of Christ

This Christmas let’s focus on Christ as the reason for the season. A choir of angels who announced the birth of Jesus sang “glad tidings of great joy.” And Jesus taught his disciples repeatedly to “be of good cheer.” Jesus experienced all our afflictions, yet he knew that we could be of good cheer. Being of good cheer means accepting the gift of Jesus Christ and sharing that gift with others.

Helping Those in Need

This Christmas let’s remember those in need, at home and abroad. Could we donate life-giving money and supplies to those who are struggling to survive in Palestine and Israel? As we help those in need, let’s do what Jesus would do. A group of people in Orem, Utah, called their “Sub for Santa” activity “His Hands,” meaning the Savior’s hands. They found joy as they collected donations to help others. One young man who had felt “persecuted” by his parents because they chose not to buy him the latest electronic gadget instead found much greater joy in forgetting about himself and donating to others less fortunate.

Recording Daily Blessings

This Christmas let’s pause to record daily blessings in a journal. Counting our blessings in a journal will lift and strengthen us and help us see the hand of the Lord in our lives. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, ran clinical tests on depression and found one of the best remedies is to have a person write down each day three things that went well. Simple? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. As educator Brent Top said, “It’s pretty hard to say “Woe is me” at the same time you are saying “How blessed I am.”

Becoming as Little Children

This Christmas let’s remember the joy of childhood and become as little children. In “The Song of Gratitude,”Lisa Ray Turner described learning gratitude from her three-year-old son’s prayers. One night, by his bedside, he said a simple prayer: “I’m thankful for Mommy and Daddy, snow and clouds. I’m thankful for Santa Claus. I’m thankful for pizza and my big brother. Thank you for food. Thank you for everything.” Then he finished emphatically with “Oh, and please bless our dumb old cat.”

This mom said, “How much he had packed into his prayer! If only my prayers were so sincere. If only my heart were filled with such gratitude for simple aspects of everyday life. I liked to think I omitted such items because they were too insignificant to include among important adult acknowledgments and appeals.” She then reflected

I began to see sunsets. Had they always been there? I started to haul my family outside to watch the sky’s extraordinary hues of purple and pink. . . . I’d always thought gratitude was a feeling like love or anger—something that came naturally. But gratitude is more a virtue, like hope or faith—something that may not come naturally but can be learned (or relearned) by becoming as little children.

My Christmas wish for all is that we will find joy in the present, sharing the gift of Christ, helping those in need, recording daily blessings, and becoming as little children.

Adapted from R. Devan Jensen, God’s Greatest Gifts: 10 Reasons to Rejoice

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