The Gift of Presence

Colton Tanner Casados-Medve
4 min readDec 14, 2019

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Photo by Samuel Austin on Unsplash

When you love someone, you want to offer her something that can make her happy. According to this practice, the most precious thing you can offer your beloved is your presence.

— Thich Nhat Hanh.

These past few days, I’ve overheard several of my rideshare passengers discussing their holiday plans and how much preparation still remains for them.

Just last night, I heard a lady tell her friend, “I have so much Christmas shopping left to do!”

The conversation then turned toward her son. Her friend asked, “What will you be getting him since he already has a PS4?”

The mother then explained how she was at a loss for ideas since her son really loved his PS4 and even told her, “It’s okay, I don’t really need anything.”

I then heard her say, “But I have to get him something.”

Of course, I didn’t interject in this conversation. I’m not one to get involved in telling other people how to express their gratitude during the holidays.

I did find it a bit heartwarming how her son, contrary to what one might think, felt like he didn’t need his mom to spend extra cash on anything extravagant for Christmas.

But while they were talking, I was reminded of a passage from Thich Nhat Hanh’s No Mud, No Lotus, regarding the gift of presence. The opening quote is from a chapter called “Happiness Is Not An Individual Matter,” within the subsection “Being There For Another’s Sorrows.”

I was also reminded a bit of the popular holiday film Home Alone, which is really about reminding ourselves to be grateful for our friends and family.

This lady was genuinely worried about what to get her son in the form of a material gift, even though he was quite content with what he already had. It seemed so obvious to me that all she really had to do for the holidays was be there with her family and enjoy a nice dinner and maybe spend some quality time playing games together or something of that nature.

Colton Tanner Casados-Medve

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” — Joseph Campbell