One of the things I love about Christmas (provided I've granted myself enough time and funds) is the gift-giving. I love spending time thinking about the inner-workings of another living soul, what it must be like to BE them, what kinds of things give their life meaning and pleasure, and how to express to them my admiration and affection.
Recently, the saint and I were talking about how to find ways to prioritize each other in this phase of life. The longer we are married, the harder it seems to be. Marriage is so strange, don't you think? It becomes second nature to see a person every day, to know their foibles, tastes, jokes, pain. We must put forth a continual effort to infuse the relationship with novelty. One of the things we bemused about was writing. We almost never write each other and yet written words (or any positive words) are the way I receive love.
This all got me to thinking about gifts of the soul. Maybe you've heard of the 5 love languages...a theory that we are all built to receive love in a specific way and give love in a specific way (often, these are two different things). I have known for some time that I receive love through positive affirmation or words of encouragement. Joel receives love through physical touch and it's interesting to see how this has played out in our dynamic. If we fight, the way he knows we are recovered is if I touch his knee or hug him. Oppositely, if we can again speak peacefully or give each other compliments, I feel comforted and ready to move past the conflict.
Similarly, my best friend Jackie has recently been reminding me of these love languages. She has been trying to find ways to discover how to love her family (3 children and husband) as they would receive it best. I love talking with her about each of them, observing her observing them is really quite amazing. It takes a rather big heart to decide to extend love not as naturally as it might come to your own giving language, but to extend love how those on the other end will most deeply internalize it.
I am serious when I say that if everyone decided to forgo giving me gifts this year and in its place wrote me a letter about their lives or their daily details or anything at all...how that would make me feel like I could conquer the world. This got me to thinking about how I give...and what would make my friends/family really KNOW how much I care for them.
Otherwise, I don't really see the point to gifts at all.