Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spreading the Christmas Spirit Through the Five Languages of Love

It’s Christmas time once again. Although Christmas is rooted on a Christian event, the birth of Jesus Christ, Christians and many non-Christians get into the spirit of the holidays in more ways than one. Christmas is a time to be with loved ones whether they be family or friends. It’s a time for endless Christmas get-togethers, from big blown out parties and family reunions to small intimate meals or drinks with close friends that have not seen each other for a long time.

Christmas is a time to dust up different holiday traditions, of which there are many. The traditions during this holiday season vary according to a particular race, their locations, their Christian religious affiliation and their overall beliefs. For example, some have a white Christmas because of the presence of snow while others have a more tropics inspired celebration. Some put up decorations a day before Christmas while other start Christmas in September. Yes, September. As soon as the “ber” months (months whose names end with the letter “b-e-r”) start, Christmas carols are played on radio stations across the Philippines signaling the start of preparations for the holidays.

Giving gifts is an important tradition for the young and old alike. Businesses make a killing during this time of year. And it seem that Christmas becomes more and more commercialized and a tad impersonal as the years go by. Stores all over the world create gimmicks; go on sale or offer discounts a few weeks before Christmas to make sure they can catch early buyers.

But are material gifts really the only gifts to give during Christmas? What if you gave gifts not based on what you can financially afford to give but on what the receiver really wants to get. Why not give gifts according to a person’s language of love?

Languages of Love

Dr. Gary Chapman coined “The 5 Love Languages,” which was a result of his years of playing marriage counselor to various types of couples. In his book about the subject, he said that each person has his or her own language of love and that there is no one language. You cannot put love into one category because each person looks for something different. Dr. Chapman said that the secret to a successful relationship is by learning the correct language of love.

The five languages of love according to Chapman are below. These are the categories that define how a person feels that he is loved and cared for by another person.

Words of Affirmation – getting encouragement through kind words
Quality Time - receiving undivided attention
Receiving Gifts – getting thoughtful gifts rather than mere tokens
Acts of Service – when someone does something for you that you normally do yourself or do not expect
Physical Touch – receiving loving touches that encourage you or make you feel secure and loved

For a relationship to survive, Dr. Chapman believes that a person has to be clear on the language of love of his partner because this is how his partner understands what it means to be loved. A person can have more than one language of love.

Using the five languages of love during Christmastime

So how does this relate to the tradition of giving during Christmas? You can base your gifts according to what a person’s language of love is. If you know exactly the person’s language of love, then your gift will definitely be appreciated.

Words of Affirmation
If a person feels loved when she hears encouraging words, then during Christmas, pick up the phone and call her instead of sending an e-mail, an e-card, a text, a tweet, an IM or any other impersonal way of communicating your thoughts and wishes for this time of year. Having a good conversation peppered with reassuring words can perk up the holiday spirits of people who see love in words of affirmation. If having a verbal conversation is difficult for you, write a well thought out letter instead.

Quality Time
Everyone seems to be in a frenzy during the holiday season. If you know someone who likes spending time with you, then by all means, give her the gift of your undivided attention. Physical presence is important for people who see love in spending quality time with people they cherish. So, have a meal with a friend or visit a family member during the holidays. While you are with that person, make sure to take yourself off the grid. Put off your smartphones and other gadgets. Make yourself available only to the person you are with. The time you invest will surely be appreciated for a long time.

Receiving Gifts
According to Dr. Chapman, this particular language of love has nothing to do with being materialistic. It is about thoughtfulness more than anything else. The effort put forth by the giver of the gift is more important than the actual gift and most especially the cost of the gift. So give a gift that you know the receiver will truly appreciate. Give one that the recipient can use instead of token gifts that end up being re-gifted or stocked in the garage. This particular language of love is powerful when used the right way.

Acts of Service
Children use this language of love well. Because they often cannot afford gifts, they instead make breakfast for their parents or clean the car. These are simple but powerful expressions of their love. Adults can likewise use this love language effectively. Reach out to someone whom you know would appreciate help at home, in the office or elsewhere. Offer to do some of that person’s responsibilities during the holidays. For example, ask if you can help someone decorate her home, deliver gifts for her, or help her prepare for an event. If the person understands love this way, an act of service to that person can go a long way compared to a sweater or a pair of shoes.

Physical Touch
Physical touch is not to be taken just in the romantic sense. It goes beyond what happens inside the bedroom. In fact, it is not connected to sexual intimacy. Physical touch is more about encouragement and support. There are some people that require only a hug or a pat on the back to know that they are appreciated, valued or loved. Within this language of love, a simple touch on the shoulder or arm can already make a big difference. This Christmastime let someone know he is doing a good job by patting him on the back. When a family member hugs you, make sure you hug back.

Dr. Chapman’s five languages of love are universal. They know no race, creed or religion. Everyone can identify with one or more of the language of love categories. This Christmas, don’t get caught up with commercialism and materialism. Instead, think deep. Ask yourself what the languages of love of the people important to you are. Once you know which languages they speak, use them instead of buying token gifts or sending impersonal greetings this holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

1 comment:

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