I’ve never been great at gift giving.*
Some years back, one of my sisters read a book, The Five Love Languages, which boiled down the ways people like to give and receive love into five “languages.” A person tends to be able to perceive love through one of these styles, and to give via one (although not by any means necessarily the same style).
Here are the “languages” (as I remember them):
- Talk (saying sweet things to the other, compliments)
- Spending time together (aka attention), doing things together
- Doing something for another
Thus: I might like to be told how wonderful/beautiful/amazing I am, but when I want to show someone that I appreciate them I could instead think the right thing to do is to give them a big hug.
So here’s the thing: I myself am big on the “spending time together” kind of love, and I’m really NOT into any of the other style. If you can find time to have lunch with me, I understand that you care about me. And if I can wrestle myself out of my hermetic hovel to share a meal or a drink with you, you should know that you are special to me.
(Let’s remember though that if I don’t attend your event, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I very well may think you rock socks. It might mean that I had a last-minute panic attack and needed to spend the evening sorting my actual socks. Please know that I stayed at home in panicky terror while feeling full of love for you.)
But so. Telling me that I’m terrific: not much effect. Giving me Tiffany earrings? I’m likely to rattle off a diatribe about blood diamonds. Shovel my snowy sidewalk? That I decidedly will appreciate, but I’ll view it as a debt and make plans to shovel yours in an upcoming blizzard. Give me a hug? I will hug back as best I can, and I will feel really, really awkward in the process.
Anyway. The Kinks’ classic holiday song “Father Christmas” always has held a special meaning for me. Yeah, give those gifts to the little rich kids. Give the money to the other kids who need it. But if you want to give me something, c’mon and let’s grab a coffee and chat.
* Can we please stop using “gift” as a verb? Where did this usage come from? Every time you “gift” something to someone, a tiny kitteh chokes on holiday ribbons.