Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Gift of Being Present

Oh no…. Jack had really outdone himself this time. After only a few test flights of my cousin’s brand new remote controlled drone, my brother had managed to get it stuck at the very top of the pine tree in the yard. After a few good laughs about this mishap, my brother, dad, uncle, and 4th grade cousin Carter had constructed a strategy to get the drone down from its perch. This strategy mostly involved Jack climbing up the tree and shaking it with all of his might. The rest of our laughing family watched from the base of the tree or from inside the house until the drone was released from the highest branches. This is just one of the many highlights from my family’s drive-through Christmas this year.

Drive-through Christmas is one of my favorite events in the holiday season. Since I was born, this family gathering has taken place at my uncle’s house in southern Minnesota. When my brother and I were little, the endearing “drive-through” aspect of the holiday was created because our family would drive three hours to the celebration, stay for lunch and a few gifts, and then return back home before nightfall. Our time together as a family is very short, and often we only get to see my grandparents and my cousins a few times a year. However, I think that’s what makes this family Christmas so great. Since we only have a few hours to see each other, we make the most of every minute and do our best to catch up with each other and show support in the limited timeframe.

Ten-year-old Carter and my six-year-old cousin Morgan are always bursting with energy and excitement. Jack and I play game after game with them, and even though their enthusiasm can be a bit overwhelming at times, we always do our best to spend as much time with them as possible. In fact, everyone engages in conversations and takes advantage of the time we have with each other. My mother always reminds us of our limited time, and Jack and I are reminded before we arrive to make the most of each moment. So we put our phones down, forget about our other obligations for a while, and just enjoy the people in our lives.

I find that even though I hardly see my Dad’s side of the family throughout the year, I develop great memories from each drive-through Christmas. Despite the long car ride every year, Jack and I have always look forward to the family time we experience at this holiday. This happens because my family is intentional about using what we are given to make something better. I have found that drive-through Christmas has inspired me to give my best attention and presence to the people I am with throughout the entire holiday season.

As we continue through this holiday season, we have the opportunity to connect with our family members and close supporters. This is a great time to be fully present and be intentional about giving our time to others. All too often we take the people in our lives for granted, and we fail to maximize our time with them. And while not everyone will have a limited time with their family like I do, we can still make an effort to give the gift of our time and attention to those around us. We make the best memories when we are truly engaged with the people in our lives. So whether you want to bake some cookies, have a snowball fight, drink hot chocolate by the fireplace, have a good conversation, or fulfill another holiday tradition, I invite you to turn your time with others into a gift of its own. 

Stationed beneath the rising sun, 

Katie Benson

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