Admission: My love language is gifts.
If you want to make me happy, then have a birthday, an anniversary, or give birth to a baby. I will then scour the earth finding you the perfect personalized jewelry case, or cover an old wooden box with pictures of you as a baby and Modge Podge it for you.
If you mention that you like the color periwinkle, or that you have always wanted leather driving gloves, or that you have never once had a massage, I will tuck that information into my creative Fort Knox, to simmer deliciously until your next special day, upon which I will present to you the most personal, meaningful, and thoughtful gift you have ever received.
The love for gifts isn’t just for giving them, though. As my daughter once said, “I love giving AND receiving!” My passion for giving the perfect gift is matched with the equal but opposite passion for receiving the perfect gift. But, thus far, no one I know gives with the precision, thought, and tenacity I do. Disappointment, therefore, is my constant companion at any celebration. No gift ever measures up, and here I had dropped so many hints since my last birthday.
I tell you of my persnickety love language so that you realize that what I am about to tell you does not come lightly: I’ve finally found the perfect gift. It is perfect for any occasion—birthday, anniversary, Christmas, or April Fool’s Day (told you it was an obsession). The gift has a 0% return rate, so needs no gift receipt. It does not get stuffed into already-crowded dresser drawers or sit unused in a box in the basement.
It works for both male or female recipients and it’s appropriate for all ages. Despite not being exquisitely wrapped, it delights any who receives it. And, if you aren’t sold already, let me conclude with this clincher: It’s entirely free.
You ready? The gift is…our presence.
Talk about ‘being present’ is all the rage these days and rightfully so. I don’t need to tell you what effect our constantly plugged in culture is having on our lives. Conversation may not be a dying art (yet), but it’s certainly a diminishing one.
We live in a world where words like ‘relationship’ and ‘friends’ need new defining every year, making some of us wonder if the correct term for interactions online might not better be ‘anti-social’ media. What do you mean you want to…meet me for coffee?
How we give the people in our lives this wonderful, free, on-going, perfectly fitted gift is up to each of us. Only you know if you are too addicted to pseudo-friendships on Facebook, too fragmented by Twitter’s interruptions, too worn out by too many activities, too immersed in Downton Abbey, too obsessed with a clean home, too mentally cluttered to sit on the couch for a longer-than-140-characters conversation with your son or to put overnight curlers in your daughter’s hair.
But give it some thought. The ‘unproductive’ hours we spend giving our full presence to those we love may just be the best present we can give them. Even gift snobs like me would like it.
“Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
This coming year, whatever the occasion, what do your loved ones really want…your presents, or your presence?
By Amy Ruth Henry, Whole MamaLeave a Comment
Patty O says
An excellent post! From one gift lover to another…I too LOVE finding the perfect gift for everyone, and yes, love getting gifts too. Although like you, I love the gift of presence the most, I’ve also told my husband and family, the gift of thoughtfulness is one I love. For my daughter to think of me while she’s on a fun school trip, for my husband to send me an congratulatory email, for a friend to call and say “let’s go for coffee!”…these too are wonderful gifts to me.
Yes, SOOO true. Thoughtfulness indicates we’ve spent time and energy ‘learning’ a person. A thoughtful gift is a physical expression of that, which is why it is such a great then if and when it happens!
Beth Werner Lee says
The part about presence, this is what I’ve been nudged about by God recently. I’m ignoring my daughter when she talks to me when I’m in the other room reading and typing emails as she talks, expecting me to be paying attention!
As to your gift giving love, I bet you could make a business out of it, advising people who want to give gifts (say to girlfriends or spouses). Training in following up on hints, where to shop, that sort of thing.
I too have felt the disappointment, my man celebrates by going out to eat, but lately we combine a shopping expedition after the meal. So far so good, learning to love what is rather than what I wish. After a year of his saying, “I was going to buy you some jewelry, want to go looking together?” and then not finding anything, I held a premiere jewelry party and picked things for the valentines, mothers day, anniversary. I even gave him choice between two flowery things, two red things, you get the picture. He does have good taste and goes for the bright. I still get compliments on the flowers every time I wear them, and hosting meant I could get the earrings free. For my last birthday we went out for brunch to my favorite restaurant and then strolled over to a cute shop where I picked from a selection of amethyst earrings. Just about perfect!
From one gift lover to another, I salute you!
(Christmas since my mom died though, it’s been sad. Real lack of presents under the tree except for the pile I make for our child. I think I’m praying about that, to learn whatever lesson God has for me. Could I send you some money to shop and wrap gifts and mail me a package, for me? Tears.)
I’ll do it, Beth! Haven’t crossed that yet in my life, but can imagine how difficult it would be. I think you are a genius in the way you have learned to deal with it in your marriage. Bravo! (and thanks for the business idea…SOMEONE could get rich off it–brilliant!).
This is terrific!
Sarah from Texas says
Amen, Amen, Amen!!!! To this great post, I truly salute you! I too possess the love language of GIFTS. It doesn’t matter what the gift is. If you saw a paper clip on the ground and picked it up and gave it to me because you thought of me when you saw it…….you would make my day! God gives us all the spiritual gifts we need to be Kingdom Builders for Him! But I will also admit to the shared disappointment that you mentioned when the same thought and consideration is not typically received in return. A friend once told me that my biggest mistake was to judge others by my standards. I have tried to see others in light of their love language. It really helps.
Your friend is right (sigh!), but the reality of being chronically disappointed is hard to ignore, even if you know it’s not the other person’s ‘fault’ per se. I write more about this further down in the comments, but sounds like you are grasping ‘what is,’ which is the first step toward peace. (btdubs, love the paper clip story!)
One of my love languages is time. This fits right in with the gift of presence, does it not?
Cynthia McGarity says
Mine too Lisa! Quality time is truly, in my love language opinion, the best gift of all. (But can frustrate my poor husband no end at times.) Thank God for the book which helped us both understand our needs.
Wow…from my mind to your post. Perfectly decribes me and my LOVE of gift giving and yes I admit even my receiving. For me part of the fun is selecting that special something for that special someone! Striving to change “my expectations” daily. Thanks for making not feel so alone out here!
Cara Coleman says
Such a wonderful reminder. I am often telling my husband that I desire his time instead of a gift. I bet my kids would tell me the same thing if I could search their hearts.
Cynthia McGarity says
YES!!! AWESOME!!! INSPIRED!!!! Thank you, thank you for this beautiful post and gentle reminder. I consider these words the true gift!
Glad you were encouraged, Cynthia! I know I am constantly reminding myself to GIVE presence and to BE present. Maybe we could design a forehead tattoo for just such occasions? 😉
Such a timely post as I just came from having tea with a blessed friend. Her hospitality and listening ear was the best present.
Yes… unless you’re an introvert.
Ha, yes, Alexandra! I suppose that can be true, too. I’ve found my two more introverted kids still want my presence, but more casually. And usually at ten at night when the others are asleep and things are quiet:)
Thank you for this post which fits me quite PERFECT as I celebrate my birthday TODAY!
Unlikely last year when I had my mom and dad near by, at this time I’m far from many of my beloved.
Thanks for the inspiring words and reminder of what the GIFT is really about. I agree with you 100%!
Happiest of birthdays to you, Lya! I hope your day was beautiful.
Great post, Amy. Thank you for sharing this absolutely perfect gift idea. It is so true. Having the “presence” of a dear friend or family member is an awesome time and memory. A gift that will keep on giving.
Yes, Debra. Now, if we can only slow down enough to breathe! I find it hard to enjoy giving presence when I am harried. It seems like now, more than ever, we need to be deliberate women. Otherwise the urgent crowds out the important, you know?
Yolanda Young says
Being present is certainly something that has been missing for a long time; I am not sure we really know what it means anymore…..to be totally present in the conversation/interaction. Social media is a useful and wonderful thing but I think we have replaced being present with social media because it is faster and reaches the masses……..and so we have lost the art and the benefit of truly being “present”. I agree …..it is the best gift and feels soooooooooo good.
So true, Yolanda. The challenges to PRESENCE abound in today’s hyper-tech’d world. I think we’ll be seeing more and more written along these lines in upcoming years.
That is so me– the precision giver but never really receiving the precision gift myself! Haha. Thanks for sharing.
Being present is one of the best gifts of all… doing life together in all aspects, especially the little things, which truly add up to the big things.
Karen, we should form a precision gift giving club. Our slogan could be, “Never be disappointed again!” Seriously, it’s always comforting to find there are others like us out in the world. Nice to ‘meet’ ya!
Valerie Hohenberger says
I am with you on the gifting and recieving thingy! I thought I knew what you were going, to say that everyone NEEDS Christ, but then that would be and IS HIS gift! Now I know that I am NOT the only one that feels this way!
Definitely, Valerie. You bring up a good point…Jesus WAS the ultimate gift, and He also GAVE us so many gifts. One of which was PRESENCE! I wish I’d thought of that when writing this…maybe next time! Thanks for making that connection.
From where do I start? I could have sworn you were writing this about me, I have a rather peculiar love for giving really personalised gifts, I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. A friend of mine will be travelling abroad for study soon meaning he will not be around for his birthday and now my mind is in top gear trying to get him that special thing that he really wants…and yes it is matched with my desire to recieve the perfect gift. I as well have been struggling with presence, knowing or hearing the Lord tell me so much about it but either putting it off or doing it wrong. I have just been encouraged to keep at it, the same way I pursue “the perfect gift”
The ‘perfect present’ thing might reveal an element of perfectionism, too, Glo. I know it does for me. And perfectionism makes it difficult to enjoy ‘presence’ because we attach to presence a whole lot of expectation–what the time should look like, the perfect adventure to explore together, making all those unforgettable ‘moments’ we read about. Perhaps, for both of us, a letting go of trying to wrangle life to fit the pictures in our heads might be in order. But, hey, if that doesn’t work, let’s exchange addresses and become present partners!
I too am a gift-giver and receiver. However, this can cause problems when other people do not give or receive this way. How have you manged to overcome raised expectations for eitehr the person receiving the gift from you, or for what you hope to be given?
Good point, Louise. Before I understood my love language, I would be very disappointed whenever I received a ‘sub-par’ gift. I defined sub-par by what a gift should be (in my estimation, thoughtful and indicative of the giver’s love for and knowledge of me). Holidays were, therefore, often disappointing. However, I’ve slowly been figuring out to love ‘what is’ rather than only being content with the ideal I’ve manufactured in my head. My ideal–not the sub-par gift– is what makes me unhappy about it. I can choose to give incredible gifts, but expecting them in return has only been a recipe for disaster. Funny, though…as I’ve relinquished control of this area and am learning to hold expectations oh-so-lightly, I’m actually enjoying the gifts I get much more than I did before. They are given out of love, not a sense of weighted duty to please the picky receiver. That, and seeing what others see as the perfect gift for me (whether I like it or not!), has, for me, restored the joy in gift ‘getting.’
Thanks for this. I need to learn to let go of expectations, as it has caused a lot of hurt in the past, which is very sad when the person hasn’t managed to live up to my stupid expectations! The love languages tests has has been very useful for me though- for example I got only one point for words of affirmation, whereas for a lot of my friends this ranks highly for them, so I like to take the time to plan the perfect words to say and write them in a letter.
Beth Williams says
My love language is “time together” with a spouse. I enjoy it when people stop what they’re doing and spend time with me or ask me how things are.
I enjoy giving and getting gifts spontaneously. One of my favorite gifts is food I made myself. I truly enjoy cooking and love to make meals for people just because I love them. I also delight in encouraging people whenever I can.
Time if a precious gift to give to people, especially the elderly. They seem to appreciate it ever so much and you will also! I spent a lot of time with my mom and saw her weekly for 2 years before she passed on. I don’t regret helping take care of her and making sure that dad and she had what they needed.
Kim Bentley says
While searching on the internet finally i got a website named “Post My Greetings” which is the biggest gifting portal where i found lot of greeting cards from a wide array of Birthday Greeting Cards. The best thing i like about this website is its customisation feature and the idea of the way their process works.
Before a week i ordered a Birthday card for my friend and it got delivered on time in a perfect shape. The card was just looking like how i expected. To know more – http://www.postmygreetings.com/greeting-cards/birthday/friend