Ages ago I decided I was going to blog about the 5 Love Languages http://www.5lovelanguages.com/. I did the first 3 and then slightly ran out of steam! So here's number 4 - sorry there's been such a long gap!
I've already talked about Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service. This time I want to talk about Receiving Gifts. Who doesn't like receiving gifts?! I guess most of us like presents, but the truth is that they're definitely more important to some people than to others. I like getting presents, of course I do, but actually in many ways I like a card or note better! I'd far rather receive a card, written from the heart, with kind and encouraging words in it, than an expensive present! (A card that just has someone's name scribbled in it doesn't count - the words are what's important!). That's because my love language is Words of Affirmation, so the main way in which I feel loved is through words.
That said though, presents are still great, especially thought through and well chosen presents. Present-buying is actually quite a gift. Some people only seem able to buy presents they themselves like, even if it's something the person they're buying for wouldn't like at all. I remember learning this quite early in life. My mum came home one day with a present for my great aunt. It was a brooch - truly one of the ugliest things I had ever seen! I asked my mum what on earth she was thinking - it was hideous! "That's true," she said, "it's horrible. But Aunty Mary will like it." Sure enough, when it came to Aunty Mary's birthday, she loved it, and she often wore it. I was astonished, and impressed! Buying presents, it turned out, was a selfless act - you had to imagine what the other person would most like.
I find that quite fun, and enjoy buying presents for people. In fact sometimes people are surprised to learn that I'm less bothered about receiving gifts, because I like buying and giving them so much! I'm one of those really annoying people (I get this from my mum too!), who buys presents all year round, and keeps them in a special cupboard. I buy something, whenever I see it, which I know that a certain person would like, even if it's just after Christmas and their birthday is months away. For some really good friends I have 3 or 4 presents hidden away, because in each case I've seen something and known that they'll love it. (Of course the trick then is remembering that when it comes to their birthday!).
I have all sorts of random presents in my cupboard. More than once there's been an 'emergency present' required - e.g. when we've found out at the last minute that one of the kids of one of our church families who are in need has a birthday, and I've been able to race home and find something to fit the bill. I also love buying presents for my friends' kids. For my Godchildren, I buy presents not just at Christmas and birthdays, but also on the anniversaries of their baptisms.
As a single person (even though I realise I've just said I prefer cards!), presents are hugely important to me. My family is tiny - we'd pretty much all fit in a phone box - and realistically the only people who really HAVE to buy me presents are my mum and dad. It's massively special, then, when people buy me presents who really don't have to. I'm fairly easily pleased present-wise (HINT: jewellery, bags, scarves and pretty stationery are ALWAYS going to work :) ), but it is so very lovely when friends (who are under no genetic obligation to do so) buy me a present.
Christmas and birthday presents are obviously lovely. I'm so grateful to my wonderful friends who buy me presents then. At my best friend's house, where I have breakfast every Christmas morning, I even get my own Christmas stocking :)
What's also lovely and wonderful is presents for no particular reason - presents because someone simply saw something and thought of you. What a lovely thing that is. I think the reason I enjoy that so much is knowing that firstly someone knows me well enough to know that I would love that particular thing, and secondly that they were thinking of me when they saw it, and went to the trouble of buying it for me.
Sometimes it's easy to think that I don't really matter all that much to anyone - perhaps as a single person this is a particularly common thought pattern, because there's no 'one person' to whom we are most special, and who we know will always have us in mind. But receiving a gift, by its very nature, makes us special - it reminds us that someone has thought about us, and cares for us, and has gone to some trouble for us. That is definitely a gift worth receiving!
Here's a rather lovely gift I received recently (teabag not supplied):