The perfect presence

Happy Advent!

Week three — the week of joy. If we are not already in panic mode about last-minute shopping and finding the perfect present, then we will be soon! Every year at Christmas so many of us struggle with finding the perfect present for our loved ones that we are out at different malls or glued to our phones for online shopping. We spend so much time looking for the right gift that we often lose time with the loved one we are shopping for. Sometimes the best present is presence!

If I am completely honest when asked what I would like for Christmas, the truthful answer is more time with dad and my brother. Recognizing that that is not possible, I understand that translates to spending more time with those who are still around me. What a great gift to spend more time with the ones I love. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that we should not exchange gifts but we need to be mindful to not let it distract us from the real reason we give gifts; the love we have for one another. 

Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a time for everything:

“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the Heavens.
A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;  a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace”
(Ecc. 3:1-8).

According to tradition, Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon towards the end of his life. I think if he were writing it today it would sound a little different. I might say, “A time to email, and a time to send a card. A time to text and time to call. A time to spend, and time to save.” Either way, we sometimes need those gentle reminders that everything has it’s time and because of that, time has great value. The famous author, “Unknown,” once wrote, “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time because when you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.”

When we give someone the gift of presence, we share a bit of ourselves. And if we truly believe that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, then when we share a bit of ourselves, we share a bit of the Divine. 

I pray that during these last days of Advent and during the beautiful season of Christmas, we remember to share the wonderful gift of our time with our loved ones. 

There may be no way to wrap it in a bow, but the present of our presence can be a reminder of all we encounter of the love that God shares with us! 

Have a very merry Christmas and a blessed and happy New Year! 

Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at

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