The Most Coveted Present This Christmas (and it’s not what you think)

Instead of presents, presence.

If you believe what they say, Christmas is the season of goodwill, cheer and generosity. Magazines, television adverts and social media are constantly pumping the latest gadgets, toys and gifts before our eyes. Each year it seems to get earlier and earlier — as soon as the first pumpkin is composted, out comes the tinsel and promise of the Coca-Cola van coming to a town near you.

Is this what it’s become?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a serial shopper as much as the next 30-something. I love treating my son to the latest Lego sets or books to complete his collections. But that’s a child who’s only ever known chocolate (or even more blinking Lego) during advent, and lunchtime chats with his mates over who’s getting what. If the rumours are true, one lucky 7 year old will be getting a jet pack.

As an adult in control of my money, I am able to treat myself as and when I wish (within reason of course — I’m not talking about buying new Louboutins every week, more a trashy mag and a chai late at the train station.) Apart from a well-thought gift from my husband and family, I do not feel the need to stockpile shower gel, scarves and chocolates at the back of the cupboard. Of course they are nice (who snubs lightly dusted truffles, right?) but what I really crave is the gift of time.

In numerological terms, we are coming to the end of a 9 year cycle. Looking back at the events which have taken place over this cycle, it’s been a melting pot of wonderful births, and a hell of a lot of death. Not only did we lose my grandma, my cousin, my mother and father in law as well as my husband’s beloved best friend.

It’s been a tough old 9 years, and when I think of those who we have lost, I do not think about the gifts they chose for me. I think about the fun. The conversations. The camping trips, the dinners out, the sleepovers and the laughter. The day trips on buses, the mischief and the picnics. The fun. I miss the fun which we had together over everything else.

Gifts can be wonderful tokens of love, but those memories will be with me for a lifetime. I don’t want presents. I want people’s presence.

This year, rather than writing a list of things you would like to own, how about thinking about how you’d like to feel? More appreciated? Ask for an afternoon at a spa sans children. More romantic? How about a champagne picnic in a rose garden? You get my gist. Now, write that list.