A language of gifts


Man, have we been getting some beautiful presents lately.

Between two bridal showers and the upcoming wedding, so many people have generously helped feather our nest and gotten us fun, useful and totally splurge-worthy items to start our married life. Most of the gifts are currently piled in our living room, unable to be put away until we figure out some magical new organizational method for the apartment — a fact that makes me feel simultaneously grateful and overwhelmed.

Twice last week I received unexpected gifts. One was an homage to my pumpkin love: an incredibly kind reader brought me a set of fall-scented candles and gift card to go enjoy a pumpkin spice latte on her.

A really sweet gesture — and from a stranger. From someone who knows me only from my words in the paper. When I emailed to thank her, she responded with a note that pierced my heart:

Life is not always easy and this has been the most challenging year of my life. I look forward to the time when I feel true all over joy again, without the twinge of loss. You just have to seize the day and wring everything out of it and look forward to the next, but sometimes that is easier said than done. So in the meantime it brings me happiness to bring others happiness.

What a lovely thought from a beautiful woman.

And I’d never thought of gifts that way.

In the scheme of Love Languages, I’m definitely an acts of service. Nothing means more to me than someone swooping in help alleviate the crushing weight of obligation. When a friend makes a phone call I don’t want to make, when Spencer does all the dishes, when a coworker helps proof a project . . . all incredibly meaningful to me. Moments that fill me gratitude.

But gifts are good, too. And I love giving gifts. I don’t enjoy receiving them half as much as giving, in fact — and I spend a long time trying to come up with thoughtful presents for family and friends. I’m not someone out shopping on Christmas Eve, y’all (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) — partly because I’m too OCD to wait that long, but mostly because I want to find the perfect present for you. And I probably have to order it online from some super obscure place a month ahead of time.

There’s nothing like that moment when someone tears into the package, their face a mix of anticipation and bewilderment. As soon as the bow is untied, their eyes flash with surprise. That’s it! The Thing! The Perfect Thing they didn’t know they’ve always wanted! And though not every gift-giving occasion can be a home run, I strive for awesome. I want others to know they matter. I want to show it.

We don’t define ourselves by stuff, of course — and I’m certainly not advocating the “buying” of love. But it’s interesting to think of gifts as an extension of love. For as much as I appreciate acts of service for myself, perhaps I’m still a “gift” (giving) person as well. It’s all about the element of surprise, the little “I’m thinking of you.” It’s consideration and love all tied into one little trinket.

Like my friend, it brings me happiness to make others happy. One tchotchke at a time.


Have you ever taken the Love Languages test or read the book(s)? What’s your love language? Do you enjoy giving gifts or receiving them more?