Are standard gifts essential for Christmas? I would say, no, they definitely are not. My idea behind eliminating the typical gifts doesn’t concern the commercialization of the holidays or even the idea that gifts are materialistic; perhaps, there is just a better way. In a world that disconnects us from one another—whether through technology or our busy schedules—finding ways to connect on a meaningful level with your loved ones becomes precious.
Some people feel love through receiving the typical holiday gifts, so I would purpose that could be a good way to reach those individuals on a meaningful level; but, there are several other ways of giving based on their love languages that could express affection in a much more profound way.
Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, gives us a better understanding of someone’s preferred way of being loved. The five languages are words of affirmation, service, quality time, gifts and physical touch. Knowing the love language of another can completely change how we function in relationships and bring them meaning beyond measure.
Love is expressed in many different ways throughout history and throughout the life of any individual. Even during war love is expressed, mainly through service. Think about it; in World War II women stepped up and showed love for their country and for the men fighting on the frontline by filling in the industrial positions to keep progressing the war efforts. The men fighting bled love, by sacrificing their lives, limbs and time for those they didn’t even know in another country. Another great example is Gandhi; he was significantly influential and spread love throughout the world by ministering and practicing peace. Mother Theresa expressed her love by feeding the poor and the administering to the sick. None of these examples include giving a typical gift to represent a meaningful relationship between individuals. However, they all had a major impact on the world by catering to the needs of others.
The impact these people had in the world was considerable. I would suggest, though, that it was not as hefty of an impact on the world as it was on the individuals they directly helped. Making a difference in an individual’s life is how the world slowly but surely improves and makes changes for the better.
In order to accomplish this, we must purposely impact an individual. Christmas is a perfect time to achieve this endeavor. When contemplating how to initiate a meaningful way to give, I think we should combine the five love languages and the actions that have created change in this world for miraculous results. We usually give gifts to people we know, so we can ask them how they feel loved and do something specifically designed for them.
Perhaps, your best friend’s primary love language is words of affirmation—you could write him or her a letter thanking them for all the nice things they have done for you and expressing that he or she is a wonderful person. Service is also an easy love language to speak, simply pick a task that he or she dislikes doing or can never get around to doing and you do it instead. The possibilities are endless with any of the five love languages.
Doing something specific to generate meaning could also create warm fuzzy feelings, which lead to longer lasting memories. Episodic memories occur when emotion is attached to something committed to memory, and these are the memories that stick with us for a lifetime. Giving “gifts” in a non-traditional way could help us better accomplish the goal to give a praiseworthy present that is appreciated and remembered. No more socks and clocks, this year give a gift that rocks.