Christmas Presence: Capturing the Essence of Christmas


Copyright 2016 Gina Felter

Calling out my final instructions on dinner prep and what time I will be home, I drew the door closed behind me, careful not to shut my scarf in the door. Dashing through the rain, child in tow, we were off to tumbling class.

It was a particularly long day of business and errands. We had made it home just in time for a wardrobe change and then off to our final activity for the evening before dinner.

This day was the culmination of our first semester with a new home school program. The days leading up to this day were maddening. I had made my list, checked it twice (perhaps a few more times than that) of due assignments and tests to be completed. Ironically, I switched from my old home school program because of too much testing, and on this day we spent four hours testing on school grounds. Oh, the insanity. Nonetheless, we all made it through.

I got a 5-mile run in on their first leg of testing. Chalk one up for me! Lunchtime hit and we enjoyed a much-needed break together. Then it was back to the school site to finish their stint of testing. A quick wardrobe change for me in the school bathroom and I was off to a business meeting while they embarked on their final tests.

Sometimes the maddening chaos flows in such a way that we are one with it. This was one of those times.

Closed out my meeting and back at the school site ready to pick up my scholars before they had a chance to wonder where I was. Timing is everything and on this day I was there ready to receive them when they were finished. That felt good. We all had survived a day of testing with no tears and all of us feeling good about our efforts. I was proud of my scholars for being such troopers and handling it all as well as they did considering the break downs we had only the day before.

A quick stop to the grocery store and then we were headed home. We had to be home in time for yet another wardrobe change and then off to tumbling class. Our pit stop home was just enough to unload the groceries a child with dinner instructions, and draw in a deep breath.
Gratefully, tumbling is only a three-minute drive down the road. It is in this short three minute car ride that I was humbled into capturing that childlike essence of Christmas.

Rounding the corner out of our neighborhood we took notice of the Christmas lights and decorations. Mesmerized by the beauty of the twinkling lights my son remarks “I love Christmas and all the lights and decorations.” Me, doing the mom thing and wanting my child to fully grasp the true meaning of Christmas, replied, “Yes, I enjoy all the lights and decorations too. But what is Christmas really about?” He paused and I think I heard the slightest little huff at my question. I took notice. I could almost hear his mind recalibrate as he mechanically answered “the birth of Jesus.” What should have been and could have been a proud mom moment I couldn’t ignore his pause and that recalibration.

He was on to something when he wholeheartedly shared his love for the season and all its beauty. I somehow pulled him away from that marveling moment when I chimed in. I appreciated the “right” answer to my question but I sensed I had cut him off too soon. So, I asked “and what does the birth of Jesus mean to you?”

He easily answered “Presents.”

“Anything else?” I  asked. Without hesitation, he proceeded to describe Christmas as a mini family reunion and even equated this to the three wise men visiting Jesus. This conversation left me to consider the gift of presence. In his simpleness, my son stated “presents” but everything he was describing lead me to consider “presence.” He enjoys the presence of those we don’t see very often. Cue the proud mommy moment. He gets it. He understands Christmas.

He understands Christmas as a time to see family members that we only see during these special occasions. He enjoys their presence.

The essence of Christmas is presence. It is the gatherings that we look forward to and plan for. My catechist heart considers how this is applied in our Christmas Masses. The presence of guests, visitors and the tried and true are all together for one hour, under one roof, praising our one true God. Can it get any more joyous than this? This is what we as ministry leaders strive to achieve all year! And here, on this day of Christmas it happens.

Bringing me back into the moment my son offered one final thought “Yeah, I like the presents. Especially the stockings, because they have candy and the small toys you can throw away after playing with them.”

His words hit me upside the noggin like a lump of coal. Do I treat the presence of guests and visitors at holy Mass like stocking stuffers? Do I smile sweetly and get along for the duration of Mass and then toss them away without a second thought? This year, to save me from tears, I’ll give them to someone special!

Heavenly Father, my gift to you is all your children that visited this Christmas. May I see you in each of them and trust in your presence.


Copyright 2016 Gina Felter


About Author

Gina Felter, wife, mother of five, adventurer and techie. She enjoys sharing her zeal for technology and has served at both the national and local levels in support of Catholic social media endeavors. Currently pursuing a degree in Computer Information Systems she embraces the intentional use of technology while being informed of potential vulnerabilities. Gina nurtures her soul in nature with an active prayer life enjoying outdoor adventures such as cycling, running and hiking. She invites you to learn more about her adventures at and welcomes your comments or inquiries at [email protected]

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