COUNSELOR?S CORNER: The meaning of presence during Christmas


A very close friend of ours who lives in a beautiful senior citizen facility told us a most inspiring story as she and her husband were visiting us last week. She told us that a new member had just arrived at their facility. This was a single woman who sold her home to enter this senior citizen facility with its apartments and wonderful surroundings. When a person does this, it can be very painful to move from a home to an apartment because there is a great devesting and uncluttering of things. To move from a home to a senior citizen apartment can be traumatic. This woman was sitting in the lounge with tears in her eyes on that first day. Our friend, came by her and asked “Can I sit here beside you?” This kind gesture of love and just sitting lovingly next to someone who was hurting allowed this woman to share her pain. Our loving friend then shared with this woman how difficult it was during her first days in living there, after selling their home. Our friend sitting gently beside this new resident was so helpful to this hurting woman. This gentle sitting together allowed two people to share their stories. Such a gentle act of love happened because of a willingness to kindly sit beside another person and listen and share. I will never forget this kind and gentle act of love by our good friend, AnnCeline.

The Christmas Holidays are here. I now understand the meaning of Christmas and the meaning of life so much better. It is about a belief in a God who sits beside us and gently reaches out to us. Whatever religion or belief a person might have, life is about gently sitting next to each other and being a loving presence for the other person. It is what everyone seeks and desires in life.

Christmas is the story of a God who becomes one of us to let us know that there is a God who gently sits beside us to listen, help and understand. One doesn’t have to be a Christian to realize this. It is the eternal story of life.

Each of us wants someone to gently sit beside us and listen to us and love us. And when we do this for another person, something profound happens to the other person and something profound happens to us. We experience Love. In an unconscious manner we also experience God. This gentle sitting beside someone else brings us closer to God.

For years I have been sitting beside people and watching amazing things happen. I have observed groups of people sitting beside each other in a gentle and loving manner and have witnessed many profound happenings of loving connections and loving sharing. The result of all of this has been a deeper experience of positive growth and a deeper experience of a relationship with God.

Christmas is a time when people come together to sit beside each other. Friends gather, families come together. This time of the year is all about sitting beside each other in a loving manner. This “sitting beside” means gentle listening and kind words.

Whenever we find ourselves not doing this, we contribute to a feeling of negativity and pain. People feel loved when we lovingly sit beside them. People feel diminished when we criticize them or preach to them about how they must change or how wrong they are. Change only happens when love is present. A genuine Christmas happens when we are lovingly present to each other. This presence with others by sitting beside them with a kind heart and loving, affirming words is the greatest gift we can give each other. Happy sitting beside each other in love. May your loving Presence bring peace to all who experience you during this last week of the year.
Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and limited licensed psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Michigan. Cavaiani is associate editor and contributing writer for Human Development Magazine. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is