This time of year is always a bit confusing for me. We gather together to give thanks for our many blessings, then jump into Back Friday & Small Business Saturday and now comes Cyber Monday where we scramble to “get what we need….” before the Christmas. We hit the mall or our favorite stores, whether it be local or online, to get the best deals of the season so we can save money on the things we may or may not remember to be grateful for by next year.
I don’t mean to sound pessimistic- though I know it sounds pretty much that way. But I’ve been reminded this year of this truth.
The greatest gift we can give is SIMPLE, but not easy!
Not easy because we all love and receive love differently. What I think is loving is not necessarily what a friend or family member perceives as love. Or vice versa.
For some people, the giving and receiving of gifts is the perfect way to show love. So we gift gifts- sometimes lavish, expensive presents. But when it seems to fall flat for the intended recipient, we are sorely disappointed by their response.
Or we offer up acts of service for someone in need and they say, “That’s nice.” but continue to feel a deep loneliness. We feel like our gift is unappreciated.
Or perhaps we spend lot’s of effort to show our appreciation to someone who really needs to have their car repaired, or the electric bill paid instead.
Both the giver and the receiver of gifts experience little joy or comfort in the process.
So HOW do we know what will really show LOVE to someone we love?
Well, I’m not the best gift giver myself, but here’s what I’ve noticed as I have spent time trying.
It’s Simple because what our loved one wants more than anything is to know they are seen, heard and loved.
Ah! Back to not easy again, huh?
But what if instead of just buying for the sake of giving a gift, we spend some time getting to KNOW our loved one. Now I hear you. That takes time, and energy and we have work and house to keep up with, we have extra holiday events to attend to. We really don’t have time to be a student of the people whose name we drew in the family gift exchange.
I already said it wasn’t going to be easy.
So Kathy, what do you propose we do?
Well, we could go back to understanding Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages. If you haven’t read that book in a while, I encourage you to pick it up again. (No, I am not an affiliate for this.)
What is your loved one’s love language?
Words of affirmation
Acts of Service
One way you might be able to tell is to watch how they show love to others. If they work hard to give just the right gift to others, they probably would like to receive a gift as well.
If they are quick to do acts of service for another, they would probably love to have someone do something for them as well.
If they work hard to create moments that are great memories for the family, they probably enjoy quality time with those family members too.
If all else fails, you can ask them what they think their love language is. That could be a great conversation to get to know them better anyway. But the purpose of this post is not to sell you on the Love Languages. (If you would like to know more about the Five Love Languages, click on the link.)
My purpose in writing is to challenge our thinking about why we are giving gifts and how we can do it a way that is meaningful. That is particularly true when we are trying to shop for a loved one who has had a difficult year; a strained relationship, a job loss, a health scare or maybe even a death in the family.
When those things happen to us, even the Love Languages may not be able to give us the appropriate cue for our gift giving. When we go through hard stuff, we might resort to being our most natural self, and then it would help to know what our love language is. But often we are just trying to survive the moment, and then we do what we must- whatever that is.
So Kathy, why go through all this only to tell us it might not work anyway?
Honestly, just to wake us up to why we are giving the gift anyway. If it is just to fulfill an expectation- then don’t expect much. But if it is to say to our loved one,
“I see you. I hear your heart. I love you!”- then do that.
Who is on your Christmas list this year? How can you say “I love you!”
Give them the gift of HOPE!
NOTE: If you are looking for a way to care for someone who is hurting, consider…