It’s December already. Christmas will be here so soon, and there’s something about having children that makes one completely aware of how fast time passes. It’s tempting to spend these few days we have before Christmas thinking about “stuff and things”. I really like giving gifts. It’s not about the stuff, but about showing people I love them. Years like this one, when we’re on a tighter budget, are hard for me, because I want to buy something for everyone.

However, as I stood making silver dollar pancakes for Josiah today, it occurred to me that what’s actually made me feel loved over the years is the time my people have given me. You see, silver dollar pancakes will ALWAYS make me think about my Papaw Martini. Although my grandpa has always been generous with his resources and has bought us gifts every year at Christmas, one of my fondest memories are the mornings he’d get up early with us kids and make about a million tiny pancakes. He didn’t say much, but he’d stand over the stove and grin as we giggled about how we could tell our parents we ate ten pancakes for breakfast. It was pure joy.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate every physical gift he’s given us, but even without material things, I’d never doubt his love. He spent time with me, and he’s one of the first to show up when I need help. He’s kind and loving and truly wants the best for his kids and grandkids, and that can never be replaced with material possessions.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been all that good at giving my time to others, but it’s something I’ve really been focusing on in the last few years. I used to be so driven to be “the best I could be” because I thought that accomplishments were the way I should use my God-given talents and that accolades meant I would be loved. And because I’m not good at balancing that drive with time spent on loved ones (holy introversion!), I’ve often found myself feeling empty and alone. With all that striving and work, I was still not the person I knew I should be.

Now, however, as I spend more time focusing on people instead of worldly success, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. At the end of the day, the time I spend building relationships will never leave me empty and regretful.

So although I won’t be able to give many gifts this year, I hope that more people are sure of my love for them. Everyone knows that time is precious, more than money. So if you give more time and make some precious memories, you needn’t spend your days worrying about how much money you spend on Christmas. Remember that this time of year is a memorial to a poor carpenter who gave His life for the people He loves. Give of yourself. That is love.