December can be a joyful, yet stressful time of the year for the same reason: the holidays. The holidays are beyond hectic but once the presents have been wrapped, the dinner has been planned, and the family has been reunited, you have the opportunity to pause and truly appreciate them for what they are: a time to get together with friends and family to celebrate.
I find that the spirit of the holidays can easily relate to the five love languages: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch. These five languages, explained by Gary Chapman, are the ways in which people express and experience love. Understanding the five love languages can help us make the holidays more enjoyable and personal again by getting the most of our relationships.
“For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.”
There’s something really personal about giving and receiving gifts. People put the time, effort and money in to get a thoughtful present. Presents also reveal a lot about your relationship with that person — it shows that they know what you like and dislike as well as your history together. If you know that a person appreciates small gifts, get them their favourite chocolate or a book you know they would like. Or are they more into big gifts like jewelry and new electronics? At the end of the day it isn’t about what you got them, but rather that you did at all.
“This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.”
The holidays are all about spending time with people. You do not have to be on vacation or be doing wintery things like ice skating and decorating a tree to have a good time. It can be as simple as bringing each other up to speed on what’s been going on in your lives or playing games together. It’s more about being with loved ones and enjoying their company no matter what you are doing. Give them all of your attention and make sure to avoid any distractions by removing anything that isn’t included in what you’re doing and yes, turn your phone off!
Words of Affirmation
“This language uses words to affirm other people.”
Social events can seem daunting, especially when you’re not sure whether to tell people about how school is going or what happened with your ex. But it’s always good to catch up with old friends and distant relatives. Speaking to others shows that you appreciate them and what they have to say. Be generous with your words and give them plenty of genuine and mindful compliments to lift their spirits up. An “I love you” every now and then will go a long way.
Acts of Service
“For these people, actions speak louder than words.”
Everyone is in an especially giving mood this time of year. Whether it is spending time at a food bank or donating toys and money, people take the time to help those in need.
This also extends to your friends and family. If you are at someone else’s house or someone is at yours, people can be found offering to help prepare dinner or do some cleaning. Anything that you do for someone who welcomes acts of service can make a huge difference and may mean a lot more to them than you think.
“To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.”
This refers to any kind of touch, from romantic to platonic. It can be a hug from someone you haven’t seen in awhile or a kiss on the cheek of your favourite family member. Touch can comfort people and show them that you are in the moment. Depending on the type of touch, you can convey emotions ranging from passion to reassurance to concern. Even just your presence can send a strong message of love.
While the holidays can at times be full of stress, it’s important to take a step back to look at what’s really going on and how our relations with others benefit from such a time. Try experimenting with the five love languages to determine the ways in which people like to receive love. Doing so can help strengthen relationships because it shows just how special someone is to you.