The Gift of Christmas “Presence”

If we are forever yearning for ‘more,’ we are forever discounting what is offered.” Julia Cameron

You can never get enough of what you don’t really need.” – Stewart Emery

Kelly Salasin

I remember the morning that the Christmas “train” took my son on the journey from innate graciousness to maniacal greed to absolute dissolution.  He was three.

Since becoming parents, neither my husband or I got much sleep on Christmas Eve with the anticipation of our son’s joy.   That first Christmas, he was only a few months old… so it wasn’t exactly what we’d been waiting for.

His second Christmas was much more satisfying–though fleeting.  After unwrapping a handful of presents, our one year old simply refused to look at any more.  He shook his head “No,” to each pushy request from his parents, finally exiting the room to make his point– teaching us about “too much.”

By his third Christmas, however, our two-year old had fully joined the culture of gluttony. He never left the room once until everything was opened, upon which he said very matter of factly, “I want Santa bring more.”

The turning point, from graciousness to greed, came at our son’s fourth Christmas. Like a train wreck, we watched  it unfold right before our eyes.  The morning started out sweet enough, as he played with each “present.”   But soon his pace began to quicken, and he began ripping apart paper without even looking to see from whom the gift came; and then he began opening one after another without taking notice of what was he received.

Ironically,  we had once begged our son to keep opening gifts, while now, we scolded  him to slow down.  But he couldn’t stop himself.  He just kept plowing through the present(s) until there was nothing left– at which point he collapsed into tears, completely unsatisfied with his bounty of gifts.

We” had created a monster!

After that year, we encouraged the relatives to send less– and since that was mostly a hopeless cause– we bought much less ourselves, even re-gifting things from year to year.  That same Santa Moose showed up each Christmas along with holiday themed books, films and toys.

By 5 years old, our son had so many things that there was no need to buy more once our second son came along.   So we kept re-gifting–wrapping up forgotten treasures each Christmas.  Eventually, what was found under the tree was much more of what was needed~ new bed pillows, a ski coat, a sled to replace the broken one. The few toys that our sons did receive were treasured more and more.  Last year’s gift of digital cameras were played with for days on end.

Each year, we reigned Christmas in just a bit more–even cutting back on feasting and celebrations to create the space needed for the feelings we treasured most~ magic and grace and generosity.

But it’s still a slippery slope–for me.  I begin each holiday gently just as my son began that Christmas morning that transformed him from gracious to greedy.  As the weeks progress, I begin to need “more” and anxiety grips my stomach with both desire and fear.  Will I have enough?  How will I pay for it?  Am I missing out on the experience of abundance by not buying?

Soon the addictive aspect of consumerism kicks in and I reach the maniacal turning point of just wanting to shop and spend, spend, spend.

That’s where I found myself last night— coming out of the beverage store with a costly bottle of Baileys Irish Creme. I don’t even drink it anymore, but it was the holidays, and I used to love it, and everyone was buying fancy liquors, and it was the season, and I wanted to be fully part of it–even though I had just bemoaned that that I had just spent most of my budget for the month on fancy foods for the holidays.

I joined the throngs of shoppers at department stores in last minute shopping and filled my cart with things I wanted to give and to get.  I was rapturous with desire, craving the feeling of plenty!

And then I remembered my son.  I recalled how his rapture turned to dissillusionment –and I felt my own within it.  I restrained myself from a big covetous purchase and I returned another.

I began to soften.

I let the need for “more” go… and today, I sink into a slow pace with Christmas carols and cookies and writing about the gift of “presence” that needs—plenty of empty space— to be received.


“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.”~Wayne Dyer

December Delights~ FEELING into the New Year

It’s that time of year again. Who knows what I’ll bring home to today…

One of my favorite December pleasures is the annual selection of a new calendar for my home and desk. I pick up mine the first weekend of the month when the “One and Only Brattleboro” (Vermont) hosts their annual “Holly Days”–with 20% off at each store.

Over time these calendar choices have expressed my greatest passions over the course of my life.   I can look back at my years of Impressionist Art, my years of travel photography, and my years of spiritual teachings–and find something out about myself that is still true.

I use the opportunity of selecting a new calendar to intentionally deepen my attention to what is important to me–and to better define it.

A few years back, my choices dramatically shifted to political and social activism.  That was a demanding year of new edges.  Last year, I swung back at bit toward my personal preference for internal work–with a cultural twist.

The family wall Calender that I chose for 2010 was “Breath of Words~The Arabic Calligraphy of Abd el Malik Nounouhi.” Given the state of world affairs, there seems no better time to develop a continued appreciation and understanding of other cultures and traditions.

My personal desk calendar is entitled, “The Sacred Journey–a daily journal for your soul” which is a thick and lofty book, providing lots of space for guided journaling, as well as calendar notes.

I usually opt for a light and airy day calendar, but I chose this one to better integrate my day-to-day plans with my deepest inner desires.

This calendar provides opening pages to record intentions for the entire year, including: my  heart’s calling, my credo, my service and even my birthday.  Goals are broken down into: creative expression, personal growth, financial, career, physical health and well-being–to name just half of them!

This type of “hawk-eye” view on the year, though time-consuming, is very much in line with my approach toward life:  live it moment to moment, but be intentional about the moments with regular time set aside for short-term and long-term thinking–and feeling–into the year.

Each  month has pages to list goals and record highlights, as well as space for sharing gratitude, affirmation and symbolism.

Each week has a page to record: blessings, gifts and strengths.  I use the latter to record my responses to the Life Organizer, another favorite resource for guiding weekly intentions.

Though I crave variety, and the delight in the annual tradition of choosing something new, this year I’ve decided to use both The Life Organizer and The Sacred Journey Calender again.

My mind is disappointed, but there’s a deeper part of me that knows that these resources are invaluable allies in aligning what I want with what I do as I continue to create my life from the inside out.

May your new year provide the same in every way you choose to claim it!

Kelly Salasin 2009, 2010, 2011

ps. Although I picked up the same personal calendars for 2010, I went out a completely new limb with the family calendar, surprising the whole family by bringing home one with comic strips.

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