The holidays are a time of love, but if we aren’t careful, it can be dominated by one particular form: gift-giving.
Gift-giving, however, is not the only way people have of expressing their affection. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five love languages — five ways people have of showing love — and we all have our primary and secondary languages. http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
1. Gift-giving. Selecting (or making) just the right gift for the one you love.
2. Acts of service. Doing things to make the life of your loved one easier or better, such as cleaning the kitchen.
3. Quality time. Spending time together.
4. Words of Affirmation. Saying “I love you” or giving a compliment.
5. Physical touch. Hugging, kissing, holding hands, etc.
In recent years, my family has moved away from #1 (Gift-giving) and toward # 3 (Quality Time). When my husband and I got married and the number of presents that had to be bought and exchanged multiplied, our families decided we would like to give the gift of time spent together.
Therefore, instead of buying each other gifts, we each make a contribution to the Family Vacation Fund, and with this money, we take a trip together every five years. This policy cuts out hours of shopping headaches. A couple years ago, we took our first trip together, and it was fantastic. Sounds just about perfect, right?
Except it’s not.
The Family Vacation Fund assumes that everyone in my family prefers the Quality Time way of expressing love, and that is simply not the case. Some people like spending hours and hours choosing the exact right gift. Others enjoy using their creativity to create presents. Some people like to contribute time in the kitchen, and we all enjoy celebrating over food.
We haven’t come up with a better solution. Because of its ease and convenience, I suspect the Family Vacation Fund will be around for a long time to come. But once I learned about Dr. Chapman’s five love languages, I have been much more sensitive to giving and receiving love in the language that each member of my family prefers.
After all, the holidays, above all else, are about love, no matter which way it is expressed.
What about you? What is your love language, and how will you express it this holiday season?