Presence vs. Presents
Presents: pretty, shiny, fancy, makes you feel special the first few moments.
Presence – close, comfort, intimacy. Make help encourage you to feel more special for a longer time; Presence lasts. Presents break.
Presents, when done right, are a great thing. Too many times these days, though, presents are a pale attempt to replace presence. And this is a tired critique. Many people have made the same. They say that we are becoming disconnected, losing touch, ignoring presence.
Yes, that is true. But, too, we have become lazy in our presents-giving. We are attempting to find shortcuts to telling people that we care much about them, that we care enough about them to consider their sensibilities, their sensitivities, the things they would enjoy. A gift card is cheap. So is cash. Even a gift card or a cash gift of a thousand dollars is cheap. Because it says you didn’t put any effort into deciding what to get me. It says you bought me my own job. You took a look, and said, “Eh, fuck it, I’m tired of thinking of that asshole. He can do the work for me. Here…” and you shove a stack of bills at me, make me go pick out my own gift. Far from being “the perfect gift!” I find gift cards to be imbecilic, juvenile, and irrational. They counteract the spirit of giving. They ruin presents. if you’re going to give me a “present” of a gift card, please do us both a favor and DON’T.
Instead, give me presence. Come over some afternoon when I didn’t expect it. Bring a six-pack of beer, or a pizza. Tell your friend to take my kids to the mall for an hour, and we’ll just sit and talk. Or make love. Or just watch television. Because we’ll be doing something, together, which is presence, and it would mean much more than generic Presents which are nothing more than abdication in disguise.