We are obsessed, as a culture, with the attainment of goods. Products, clothing, houses, cars. Stuff, stuff, and more stuff. The word itself, in its verb form, is revealing: filling space. And this is never more clear than during the holiday season, when we are so harshly confronted with our addiction to consumerism.
And I get it. I do. I love beautiful things, too. And I crave them. But at the end of the day, our lives come down to the people who populate it. And, truth be told, what we crave more than anything is belonging, acceptance.
According to author Gary Chapman, there are 5 Love Languages:
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Physical Touch
- Acts of Service
Gifts play a role, but more as thoughtfulness than as material acquisition. We want to know that we’ve been considered, our desires remembered and fulfilled. But it’s one of five.
I grew up in Manhattan, the epicenter of status and material wealth. I observed, at a very young age, the limits this imposed. Children, raised by nannies, craving their parents emotional and physical affection, forever chasing after some imagined destination: the best grades, the best schools, the best careers. And for what? A life lived on a treadmill, defined by others, divorced from self?
It seemed bananas to me. And so I left in search of something else.
What I found astounded me: friends who held for me, unconditionally, who loved me, even as I struggled to love myself. There isn’t a present in the world that is greater than that. At least not in my book.
So this holiday season, let’s pause, let’s take a moment and think about what gifting is all about—and the energy and support we offer others and ourselves. Are we present? Are we showing up? Are we giving of ourselves?
Because who needs a house full of toys with no one to play with?
Take the quiz to find out your love language.
Artwork by Michelle Favin of Whys LA. Connect with her @whyslosangeles.