The Greatest Gift

“Mom, I don’t think time likes us to have fun.”
“Why do you think that my love?”
“Because it just goes by so fast”.
We’re on day 6 of a week long time share holiday at a game reserve, a week both of my children talk about almost every single one of the other 358 days of the year. It’s been a welcome relief from the craziness of life back home, the chaos of the day to day rush of it all…
I sit here absorbing the nature we are immersed in…the breath…the space….the constant hum of the Cicada beetles- the only bushveld reminder that Christmas is in the air, the gentle breeze relieving some of the scorching dry heat, the inquisitive squirrels attempting to cool themselves by flattening into wingsuits on the veranda, an enchanting Blue Headed Lizard eyeing me watchfully from a nearby Wild Seringa, Dung Beetles whirring by like miniature bush drones, Hornbills, Guinea Fowl, Crested Franklin, Scimitarbills…. a bushveld choir… tweeting, chirping, singing…. there is such peace from being in the midst of it all.
And the rest of it….Between riveting game drives and marathon pool sessions there have been gooey braaied marshmallows on sticks, (and braaied litchis and apples, just because they fitted on the end of a stick), building mud dams alongside the fireplace, rock climbing, attempted Antlion catching’s, tree quizzes and many enthralling moments, which, when they end, make time seem like a fun thief.
My five year old is right – these little glimpses of magic come to an end all too quickly, and we are thrown back into the whirlpool of reality, that races, that chases us, that saps us…
In my conversations with many people over the past few weeks, each one has commented on how quickly and chaotically this year has passed, and it seems to be flinging us mercilessly into the countdown to the next…
With days to go, Christmas is fast approaching and for many it’s all systems go, braving last minute shopping at riotous malls in search of the perfect present, wrapping up…. both the year and the presents…. it’s madness…. until we drop into bed on Christmas Eve, often exhausted, listening out for reindeer bells and heavy boots plodding along roof tops… and awake to gather around the ‘present-heavy’ tree on Christmas morning…
Dear parent, in the craziness of it all, remember that the greatest gift you can ever give your children in this frantic pace of life we live in from year to year, is the gift of your presence…. uncontaminated moments of being fully with them. Too often when we are physically with our children, we are actually far away, thinking about things to be done, whether work, or laundry, or any other of the multitude of thoughts which rob us of what our children need most, and crave the most. In doing this we steal from them the only gift in the world which will leave them feeling completely valued and loved – the gift of our presence.
Decide this Christmas to not let another year sweep you into its vicious cycle of living, without taking small moments each day to connect, to be with, and to really just BE in the moment, absorbing everything about who our children are, what is important to them, and being sure of what they are communicating with us.
When it feels that time is being sucked into a vortex that threatens lifelessness without the breath of fun- give your child the greatest gift of all – give them yourself.
We can’t live for 365 days in the bubbles of magic and fun that are often the result of holiday times, but we can ensure that each day, we give our children the greatest gift- the gift of presence – immeasurable, invaluable and within every single one of our budgets.


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