Fourteen: Love Language: Giving and Receiving Gifts

Tomorrow we greet December. The end of a full year. A time to celebrate, and one that has become associated with gift giving.

Giving/Receiving Gifts is one of the five Love Languages- one of five ways author Gary Chapman identifies the way people experience and express love. The other four are Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service/ Devotion, and Physical Touch.

Something I'm discussing with my daughter is when offering a gift, think about the person you're giving to, and what will "spark joy", to borrow a term. What will make them feel seen and understood? And add another step- where might this gift live in six months? In a year? In two? What went into getting it under the tree?

In Japan, we speak about offering gifts that are "shapeless": thing that are consumable, edible: teas, soaps, packs of dried soba noodles, fruit. They come in all sizes, levels of quality, but they are all things that we use, and will run out of. Things that won't need to be thrown out, or to be donated. Things that are useful, things that nourish.

I like things that are useful and delightful. My daughter hates the idea of singing a song, but likes the idea of planning an outing or a trip, making granola or dukkah, making coupons to water plants while a friend is away on holiday. I like to offer class passes, a gift certificate for a much needed massage, or good coffee from your favorite coffee roaster. The gift of music. An invitation to a favorite spot, whether in my neighborhood, or out in the wilderness. Song, spice, touch, coffee, music, a good walk- these are things in my book that nourish and delight.

Here's to hope that eventually, that the gifts we buy or make- "sparks joy" at every stage, and for every person involved in the process- from conception, design, production, packaging, shipping, delivery, and purchase- whether some of it happens at home or in a factory, whether shipping is in a truck or on your bike, and whether purchase is about ingredients or a going to the store and choosing a gift. The gift is a vehicle. What I'd really like to offer and share is- that spark.