POSTED BY: Ailish Boyle

Presence, Not Presents this Christmas

10th Dec, 2018
Arriving home hugs

Presence, Not Presents this Christmas

The diaries are jam-packed with parties and catch-ups, the shopping centre car parks are tailed back for miles, the tin of Quality Street you promised yourself you wouldn’t open for another week is more than halfway through – yes the Christmas countdown is well and truly underway! Getting caught up in the flurry of activity in the weeks leading up to the arrival of the Big Man in Red is all part of the festivities. Who doesn’t love getting into the spirit of goodwill and getting swept up in the Christmas magic? After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year!

However, for some families, Christmas is a tough time of year and puts a lot of financial strain on the already stretched budget – there’s almost this underlying fear of disappointment in our choice (and expense) of presents that we buy for others. We want to show our appreciation for our loved ones and gift them with the best and watch the smile stretch across their face on Christmas morning as they tear the (expensive) wrapping paper off. I was in Dundrum Shopping Centre last week, arms heavy and laden down with bags and gifts for loved ones, as were all the other shoppers (at 9pm and no sign of it slowing down!), and on the drive home it got me thinking about what Christmas is all about and how it has changed for me over the years.

We get so wrapped up in the cost and expense of Christmas (myself included!) that we forget what really matters – presence, not presents. It’s the one time of year where families and loved ones are reunited. Friends living in different cities or even countries are back together again for the first time since the Christmas previous. It’s a time for stories, a time for belly-aching laughter, a time for catch-ups over long walks and late nights, it’s a time to be present and have presence.

This Christmas, for the first time ever I won’t be spending it at home – my brothers are in each of the far-flung corners of the earth (Mongolia, Melbourne and South Africa to be precise!). So this year, my Mum and I decided to pack our bags and head to London to see my extended family. They say a change is as good as a rest and although I’m looking forward to a different Christmas this year, I can’t help but think with all the money in the world spent on presents and gifts to please loved ones on Christmas morning – there’s no amount of money or presents that would substitute a Christmas at home for me with all my family together. (We’re a hard bunch to round up!)

For me, presence not presents will be personified this year as I am walking through the arrivals gate in Heathrow Airport on Christmas Eve. My family will be there eagerly awaiting my arrival with smiles on their faces and welcome banners in their hands (I’ve been told they are making these already!). I won’t be alone making that journey, I am one of thousands that will be travelling on Christmas Eve, with butterflies in my tummy and twitchy feet waiting for the flight to touch down before it has even taken off, anticipating a reunion with family and loved ones for the festive season. Regardless of the presents in the suitcase, it’s your presence at Christmas that really matters….


I’ll finish with a clip from my favourite Christmas movie, Love Actually – it visually brings to life how I feel about Christmas and what is really important at this time of year. Take it away Hugh……

“Whenever I get gloomy… with the state of the world, l think about the arrivals gate… at Heathrow airport. General opinion makes that we live in a world of hatred and greed… but I don’t see that. Seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified… or newsworthy but it’s always there”

Ailish Boyle, Brand Strategist

Ailish is the newest addition to the Brand Strategy team at Neworld. After completing her Masters in Smurfit in Marketing Practice, she ventured into the world of Teleco for 3 years before joining Neworld. An avid GAA fan and all things sports related, she can often be found giving her biased opinion on how great Donegal is. As they say, you can take a woman out of the hills…..!