Our culture has been conditioned to say things like “what did you get for Christmas” or “look what I got for Christmas.” We all fondly remember that excitement of getting up early in the morning to see that brand new bicycle or those gaily wrapped presents under the Christmas tree. Which to open first? Don’t open them too fast! How could you draw it out to make that moment last?

As we get older and have children of our own, the joy of opening presents gives way to watching our children and later, our grandchildren as we share their excitement of seeing what THEY got for Christmas. During this path to maturity to adulthood, we also come to the realization that the very best “presents” we could get is the “presence” of those we love.

We picked up son Caleb at the Tulsa airport on Monday afternoon and we were so excited to see him we didn’t even wait in the cell phone lot for his call that he had his luggage. Fortunately it timed out perfectly so that law-enforcement didn’t have to shoo us away to circle the airport again.

It’s so much more exciting to have him home and know that we were going over to the much older sister Julia’s for our big family get-together as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus. We may remember that favorite doll or that favorite bicycle that we received as children, but for the most part what we remember is those loved ones that we were able to share the Christmas season with.

I asked husband Doug what was his most memorable Christmas and he had two: one was when friends on the island of Barbados invited him over from the cruise ship he was working and another was when working I circus world in Florida (all his family was in Texas) and friends are invited him to their house to share Christmas with them. No “presents” were mentioned - presence.

Some of MY most memorable were when our whole clan took a cruise together. We shared long, lazy hours. My dad in his family matching t-shirts, nephew Justin taking his mom into the ship casino, lots of memories.

We have lost many friends and family that won’t be with us this year, and at the risk of being cliche, I’ll say again... do it now! You don’t know about tomorrow! I’m talking travel and enjoying the moment. Give your best presence. Merry Christmas!

Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or pb@goodtogowithpb.com.