Presents and Presence
Catching up with my 5th grade teacher, Claudia Edgerton, has been such a joy…and no small feat, by the way. As a young girl living with a single mom, we moved around so very much. So very much. We moved when the rent in a particular apartment complex got too high. We moved to try to find a safer neighborhood. So, to reconnect with “Mrs. Edgerton” has been such a blessing and true gift. She made me feel like a true learner when I was in her class, and she is still honoring me by praising my writing and accomplishments.
I was an avid reader, anyway, but you couldn’t stay a non-reader in Mrs. Edgerton’s class. She read “Where the Red Fern Grows”, Judy Blume books, Beverly Cleary books, and so many others to us. It may not be the most popular gift, but books are what I send to my grand-niece for every birthday, Christmas, or other occasions.
I was asking someone if they remember the Beverly Cleary book about Ramona’s first day of school. Her teacher told her to sit in a particular seat for the present time. All Ramona heard was “sit here for the present”. She was devastated at the end of the day when she had to leave the classroom empty-handed. The story is so great for so many reasons (can’t you just feel her disappointment and bewilderment?), and I am going to focus on two.
2. Presence is so much more important than presents- My spiritual advisor and I meet on a fairly regular basis (which, translated, means in between my crazy travel. God bless her for being patient with me). She and I met yesterday at our favorite Smoothie spot, and she brought me a box filled with amazing gifts for my 52nd birthday. Some were spiritual, some were anti-aging, some were just adorable. Lisa is the consummate gift-giver. She always seems to find quirky, fun items that make the receiver (me, in this case) know she is truly listening to and watching me. We sat and talked about life (and all the ways I need her in my life) for 2 hours. As I was driving home, I thought about this concept: Someone’s presence in your life can be the greatest present you ever receive. I have found this to be true for me, particularly as I grow older. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love gifts---Dave gave me a James Avery Hope, Faith and Love ring for our anniversary; Kelly Raaum gave me a James Avery “cross in a butterfly” necklace when she came to take care of me after my reconstruction surgery; Robin gave rings to Kelly and me that symbolize our lifetime friendship; Rita gave me “survivor” gifts, as did so many people from Edge Elementary School (where I was principal for seven years up until five years ago). These and so many more I am forgetting to mention at the moment (because that is what some of this post-breast cancer medication does to me----or maybe it’s age) tangible gifts are precious to me. But time with loved ones….those are the gifts of “presence” that one can never get back, except through looking through Facebook memories! 😊 I am in firm belief that telling people how you feel about them and making time to see, hug, and laugh with them is the greatest present of all.
I wonder if Ramona Quimby ever figured that out.
Happy Communicating and Blessings to you all!
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