The recently arrived Christmas card was displayed on the mantle, and the unopened gifts lay under the tree, when the phone call came and changed Christmas forever. “There’s been a tragic accident,” the voice on the other end sputtered. “Everyone in the airplane was killed.” Time stopped in an instant, memories of what was being said blurred, confusion and panic overwhelmed.

The family in the photograph was gone. The gifts would never be opened. Even now, the news and implications are unfolding, but, looking on, I can only feel the importance of holding my family extra close this Christmas and appreciating every single second of time I have.

Help me remember when someone calls at an inconvenient time . . .

Help me remember when the line is long at the cash register . . .

Help me remember when the bills arrive . . .

Help me remember when my children are fighting over who opens their gifts first . . .

Help me remember when I am stressed over creating the perfect meal . . .

Help me remember when someone doesn’t really care for what I gave him or her . . .

Help me remember when I am lonely and feeling sorry for myself . . .

. . . that I can open this Christmas, this very minute, like the gift it is or take it for granted, that I can focus on what truly matters or get distracted by what doesn’t, that I can be present or distant, passionate or indifferent.

The choice is mine. The moment is not.

It’s a gift.

The only Christmas gift that matters.

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