Christmas is my favorite time of year, regardless of how cliche this thought may sound. As soon as the radio stations start playing Christmas carols, all of a sudden we are put into a trance of “being home for the holidays.” Whether that home is with family, friends or pets, it seems as if our priorities have shifted to visiting with the ones we love most. I admire giving and receiving presents that remind us how well we know each other. However, these small, magical moments are shriveled up by the number of views and likes we receive on our “Christmas present hauls.”
In years past, Snapchat stories would be filled with presents sprawled out on display. I would have thought by high school, teens would be more self-aware about how this creates unnecessary competition among peers for who had the best Christmas. I have not yet celebrated my first Christmas as a college student, but I am hoping this practice will change.
As I conversed with my roommates and a few other friends, someone asked what we would like for Christmas. We sat staring at each other for a moment, realizing we would be emptying quite a bit from our pockets if we purchased a gift for each person in the room. My friends and I talked about secret Santa, white elephant gifts and other options, but we ultimately came to the conclusion of investing in a Christmas dinner. Even though we will be spending about the same on a small Christmas party rather than a gift, the idea of spending time together sounded more appealing. From small conversations about the Five Love Languages, my friends prefer quality time and words of affirmation over receiving gifts, so our dinner idea worked out perfectly. And yes, we are probably going to take plenty of pictures for memories sake and social media.
That said, what about the people who still feel love or the Christmas spirit by receiving gifts? Is it still materialistic to post them?
I think back to my time in high school when I clicked through people’s stories on Christmas Day. The posts varied from family pictures, significant others, gifts and then a pile of presents. Comparing these images in my mind, the only ones that irritated me were the collective images of all the presents. I noticed that I did not feel the same way towards a post about a singular gift or two. Wondering why, I decided to take the Five Love Languages Quiz, observing which questions spoke about giving gifts.
The quiz has the participant decide which response is more meaningful to them. While taking the quiz, I recorded several quotes about which responses were related to gifts. Keep in mind the quiz is designed for single individuals, families, and other types of relationships.
“My partner gives me something that shows they were really thinking about me.”
“I get a gift that I know my partner put thought into choosing”
“I value gifts that people make for me”
“I know someone is thinking of me when he or she gives me a gift”
“Gifts from people I’m close to are always special to me”
“Several small gifts mean more to me than one large one”
After taking note of these responses, I read the evaluation of the receiving gifts love language. It states, “Gifts are heartfelt symbols to you of someone else’s love and affection for you.” The common theme of the responses and the statement at the end explains how the thought process that went into the gift is the significant aspect that makes these personalities feel loved. When I first read the response, “several small gifts mean more to me than one large one,” I thought that statement was very materialistic because it was increasing the number of presents, reinforcing why posting gifts on Christmas is not such a great idea. However, the more I pondered, I realized that more small presents means more time figuring out what that individual likes. In a way, multiple small gifts show that a person knows their friend on a deeper level instead of only being able to think of one expensive item. Furthermore, when I think of small presents, I think of favorite movies, candies, music or other things a person enjoys. A diamond necklace or AirPods would be awesome too, but since almost anyone would appreciate these items, it makes the gift more universal instead of personalized.
According to the receiving gifts love language, it is, in fact, materialistic when the popular guys and gals of grade school post-Christmas presents sprawled on their bed or living room floor. A generic post of a gift display does not convey the same feelings as a heartfelt set of presents from a singular loved one. By piling up family presents for an annual Snapchat or Instagram story post, it does not show appreciation from the receiver to the giver because they are being mixed to look like the individual earned an abundance of gifts. In conclusion, the reality of this Christmas post is to flaunt, not to be grateful.
Those who are true to the receiving gifts love language will not be posting pictures that make viewers’ eyes roll. These will be the images that provide a shout-out to the individual or maybe a short message expressing their ‘thank you’s.’ In addition, the overall messages will not be searching for an amount of likes, views or comments, but will read as a ‘hey, check out my awesome friend,’ type of post. I believe we can still share the excitement of a laptop a parent purchased or small gifts from a significant other without flooding the world of our bragging rights.
I still enjoy posting the moments I love about Christmas, like hot chocolate with my friends or watching “Christmas Vacation” with my family. As someone who does not have the receiving gifts love language, I understand a bit more how this personality can view the Christmas season and how awesome it is to be surprised with meaningful presents.