The most lavish gifts have nothing to do with presents-but everything to do with presence. via @blestbutstrestWe celebrated our most lavish Christmas three days early, and I can’t even remember where we were on Christmas Day.

I don’t remember what we gave as presents. But presents didn’t make our Christmas lavish. Presence did. Pedro spent ten glorious days at home with our girls—and the present of normality meant the world to all of us.

Sure, he’d looked healthier in his life, and when he smiled only half his face sort of knew what was happening. That didn’t mater. Sure, we had hospital bills waiting for payment and our credit cards had almost reached their limits (receiving treatment in a far-away city where we had to eat out and stay in hotels constituted our biggest health care expense). Those things didn’t matter either.

Our little unit of four had ten glorious days to spend in each other’s company. To reconnect and remember. To decorate a Christmas tree with the familiar ornaments and lights (which Pedro proudly put up—in keeping with a 14-year tradition). To bask in the beauty of Christmas carols, Christmas songs, the miracle of Christ’s birth. And the simple miracle of life.

From August to December, the girls had only seen Pedro three times—and two of those trips had been “You’d-better-visit-quick-it-might-be-the-last-visit-kind-of trips). We luxuriated in each other’s presence—not knowing how long it would be until we would be reunited again.

The joy of the season of birth invaded our season of grief at almost losing Pedro. We gathered around our electric fireplace in the evenings and shut out the world by turning off all but the lights on the tree and reveled in our presents. Not the ones under the tree—but the ones around it. Pedro. Laura. Sarah. Me.

It was our most lavish Christmas ever because sometimes, the most lavish gifts have nothing to do with presents–but everything to do with presence. (tweet this)

What memory of lavish comfort do you hold dear?

Find more of the story at 31 Days of Comfort for Caregivers.

I’m linking up with my friend Barbie Swihart for the Weekend Brew over at My Freshly Brewed Life, and Sandra at Still Saturday.

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • barbara gibson

    The most lavish gift came about while I worked in a care facility,near Portland.A grueling job,but most of the care givers there were skilled with a “beyond belief attitude”. Not easy,but that is a different story….
    Her name was “foxy”… part of her last name,but very suiting to a tiny mighty woman.She carried herself gracefully,which was not easy wearing a “halo”..devised of black metal,screws and being old beyond service,duct taped in part.She had been grand in her day,and we all knew it.Her bed was laden with silk pillows,Neimen Marcus catalogs on her night stand,and in spite of her tiny frame,that halo and childsize wheelchair,she was always dressed in Chanel,and silk stockings.
    She could no longer speak but a few words,but insisted in feeding herself in the dining room.
    Foxy painstaking wheeled herself about down the long hauls in her chair.
    Night after night I found comfort in her presence as long after the others were tucked in fresh for the night we roamed,and with out words we talked.Usually I sang,and she smiled and nodded in appreciation, sometimes I even saw a tear escape her eyes,which in turn even as I write this takes me back to her favorite song and fresh tears..”Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine”
    One day ,on a Saturday..not too long after Foxy had become bedridden,I arrived at work to find Foxy’s family all gathered around her bed,all holding hands and singing “You’re Walking Down Sunshine Lane”… they were a golden orchestra at her bedside…and I had to ask,as something touched my heart in the sunlight they cast in that room.”What church do you belong to?”They eagerly answered,the one of my childhood,but like I said I all ready knew.
    Tenderly I cared for her,above and beyond the “duty” as I cheerfully told her stories of our church camp experiences or sang our favorite childhood tunes.
    It wasn’t long …I’d say just a few days when I again came into her room,now quiet and dark.Her son sitting beside her bed..a note pad in his hand.Foxy was at peace I think here in the last days,breathing just patiently waiting for Jesus. Quietly I asked her son what he was writing…”Next weeks sermon,he said with a tiny smile.I never asked the content,but oh how I wanted to know…and never saw Foxy again.I often wonder about that night,that live that devotion,and that moment in time remains my lavish moment in comfort.

    • barbara gibson

      Oops….that love that devotion

    • What a beautiful story of how Foxy lavished her caregivers with peace and hope. Thank you for sharing.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • Beautifully said! The everpresence of God and the presence of my loved ones definitely mean more to me than any presents in the world.

    ~Urailak (a fellow 31dayers :))
    Urailak (Fruit Bearer on FB) recently posted…The Lord My RockMy Profile

    • Amen! The commercial world certainly fights hard to help us get our priorities wrong, doesn’t it?
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

      • Good points all around. Truly aptadcirpee.

  • The gift of presence at Christmas or anytime of the year is one I treasure most dearly! You have been blessed by such a gift from God and now you are sharing your story to bless others! I so appreciate this! Much love!
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Sunday Morning Always Comes-ShineMy Profile

    • Thank you for being such a faithful encourager, Mary :).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • Anita,
    Oh reading this post makes so happy for you and your family…and you’re so right…Presence is the best present 🙂 Happy also you got to see a bobcat on your playdate…seeing a living creature is always such a wondrous event 🙂
    Dolly@Soulstops recently posted…A Prayer For RestMy Profile

    • :). I’ll have to post photo of the nice kitty one of these days ;).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • Being entirely present – that, is the way to live – just to soak in the fullness of moments. I’m going to try to do much more of that this year – especially around the holidays! Wonderful encouragement to release the trappings and embrace who is with us!
    bluecottonmemory recently posted…In the Wait: Where Patience LivesMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by! I’m going to have a hard time with patience this holiday because we won’t be home where everything is under my control…but that’s another issue ;).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • Love this, Anita! Presence is the best present, by far. So glad I came over today, friend!
    Julie Lefebure recently posted…17 Ways To Bless & Show Love To Your SpouseMy Profile

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  • The gift of presence is the most important of all. Thank you for sharing!
    Barbie recently posted…Journey To The High Places: The Place Of Anointing (Week 14)My Profile

  • Hi Anita! I think as I get older, the definition of ‘lavish’ changes. Maybe I thought it meant ease, high-end food and wine…but it means so much more now. I can see through your post that you take it the same way.

    Being able to be in the presence of loved ones, making a difference, giving time; all of that speaks to an over-the-top sense of giving and receiving. That’s what lavish is. May I always remember that!
    Ceil recently posted…Bad LandsMy Profile

  • And I thought I was the sensible one. Thanks for setting me staghrit.