As the holiday season approaches, we are reminded of themes of love and gratitude. We all feel and experience love in different ways, which translates into our expression of gratitude. Personally, I sometimes struggle to adequately convey my appreciation for the people in my life.
Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages breakdowns the variations in which we give and receive love into five categories. Sometimes showing someone you’re thankful for them isn’t necessarily about explicitly articulating gratitude, but rather, spreading love. I want to focus on how I intend to express thankfulness towards my loved ones this holiday season through these different understandings of love.
1. Quality Time
Quality time is the most important love language to me, so I look forward to engaging with this the most. Quality time can easily intersect with other love languages to maximize meaningfulness. It provides a great opportunity to show someone you notice the little things about them and cherish the time you have shared. My sister and I both absolutely love Christmas and have a plethora of positive memories we’ve shared related to this holiday. When I come home for winter break, I plan on taking her on a day of Christmas, filled with our memories and interests. This love language is all about just spending genuine time with someone and being engaged with each other and the things that mean the most to your relationship. Simplicity is key here.
2. Physical Touch
Physical touch is my least dominant love language. However, I understand how important it can be for certain people. A simple hug can mean a lot, especially coming from someone like me who does not give out hugs often. I’m planning on giving hugs to the people in my life who I know to love them the most this holiday season.
3. Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation seem like the most logical way to remind someone you’re thankful for them. Saying nice things is always great, but in order to reach someone, specificity is essential. I’ve noticed I always remember unique compliments the most and feel touched when people notice the finer details about me. Writing a letter is a great way to verbalize feelings of gratitude, permitting the love of these words to last not just for a moment, but forever. I’ve saved every card I’ve received since I was eight years old, and still find myself looking back on cards that were written with specificity and raw vulnerability.
4. Receiving Gifts
Gifts are a huge part of the holiday season, and the pressure to find the best gifts is painfully real. It’s easy to regard this love language as shallow, but gift-giving can be meaningful when done properly. Gifts that have some form of symbolism and are connected to the person receiving the gift or the relationship of both parties seem to spread the most love. For instance, my favorite gift I received was from my friend Lily. She and I always bonded over music and had very similar tastes. For my birthday one year, she painted the album covers of all of my favorite albums we listened to together. It still makes me feel appreciated each and every time I look at it.
5. Acts of Service
The holiday season can be extremely stressful. Whether it be the nerves of hosting family for a get-together, or the elevated sense of grief towards loss during this time, a lot of us need help during this time more than we communicate. It’s great to check in with each other and see how we can help alleviate some of the burdens of pressure. This often happens in small ways but has much larger effects. I can’t necessarily say how I intend to do this now, as this love language responds to changing circumstances, however, I can promise myself I will check in with the people close to me to see how I can help and support them.
The holiday season has a lot of positivity associated with it and spreading positivity and gratitude is a beautiful thing. However, it’s important to remember that we don’t need to be perfect and constantly feel happy in this heavily romanticized season. Sometimes the person we need to give the most gratitude and love to is ourselves. In addition to expressing gratitude towards others this season, I will prioritize being patient with myself and extending myself the same grace I’d like to give others.