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The greatest gift to give this holiday season

By By Chuck Bodiford Publisher
It's that time again; the season of joy is upon us. A time marked by cooler temperatures warmed by the lights that brighten and decorate the town streets. Tons of imagery run through our minds as we hear those favorite songs and smell the sweet smell of cinnamon spice. What images come to mind as you think about the Christmas season? Maybe you think of sitting next to a roaring fire drinking hot chocolate, door to door caroling, or families gathering around a Christmas tree and exchanging gifts.
The latter is what I always associate with Christmas, not the presents, but the presence. For a majority of my Air Force career my wife and I were stationed at Minot Air Force base located in North Dakota. The distance from our home town and family always reminded us of how important the presence of family is and that no present could ever replace it. Fortunately for most of our Christmas holidays we were able to come home and be with those we love. This wanting to be with not only our family but to come home is what brought us back here to Atmore.
To this day we continue to cherish this feeling of presence. Christmas Eve and Day has become a time that as a family we run at a fever pitch trying to make sure that we visit with those closest to us. This Christmas is a special one for Steph and me since we get to spend it with our daughter, Lakyn. Her first Christmas is probably the best example of presence. There is no reason to go overboard buying presents for her since she won't be able to play with any toys for quite a while and will outgrow any clothes after only wearing the outfit a time or two. If there is anything that we can give her and she give to us it is presence. The memories we create with her will last a lifetime. I will never forget the feeling of holding her in my arms as I feed her or let her sleep, knowing that she is safe. Her presence is the best present we could ever have.
This holiday season as you exchange presents with one another, make sure to smile, and remember that you have already given the greatest gift of all, your presence.
Chuck Bodiford is an Atmore native and publisher of the Advance. He may be reached by calling 368-2123 or by email at chuck.bodiford@atmoreadvance.com