Especially in November, I recognize that I'm really lucky / thankful to be surrounded by all this Love. Most people have probably heard the 5 Love Languages alluded to, but the basic premise is that people feel and give love differently. This hasn't been canonized or anything but I do feel it rings true in most people. It varies with the dynamics of certain relationships and at times in my life it shifts. It is over-simplified and I think that often how people naturally show love is very different from how they feel loved, but here are some examples:
- Acts of Service -- My Folks -- When they visit, my house is cleaned-up, my dad has a mental list of things on my furnace, a/c, foundation, and plumbing to check. My mom cleans screens and sweeps and organizes. They help us through the worst spot of every project.
- Quality Time -- My Grandma -- just loves to sit and visit, which I don't do often enough, probably because it isn't my natural Love Language and I'm so busy being all crazy; at some point my priorities need to get in line. She is a delight.
- Words of Affirmation -- My Husband -- is great at encouraging when people do a good job, especially me. He is my number one cheer-leader, he may not read my blog or do his own laundry but he tells me how delicious the soup is, and how fantastic and witty I am...
- Physical Touch - My Dear Daughter -- is constantly giving back rubs, manicures, holding hands, hugging with all her strength, and walking too close, which is also why the poor girl gets lice. I don't want to squelch her love language, so I've just gotten really good at nit picking and we all give her lots of hugs.
- GIFTS! -- My Mother in Law -- shows love by giving, and we have been the lucky recipients... It took me awhile to adjust to accepting these gifts with just gratitude (not guilt), and that is what this blog is about.
This is more than a public Thank You / Affirmation; I think some of the things she does are absolutely brilliant, it isn't over the top, she doesn't pay for everything, it doesn't add clutter to the house, she tailors her gifts differently for different kids, it has changed our life for the better, and she doesn't feel pressure to do them (I don't think); besides, at this time of year especially, people, like myself, who don't have the GIFTS! Love Language, tend to need a little inspiration. I have a surprisingly large number of Grandparents who read, but I think this is relevant for Aunts and Uncles and Friends too. These are some of the things that our Fairy God-Mother does for us (her grown children and grandchildren) on a regular basis, often she doesn't even ask, they just happen:
Diapers -- When the kids were babies, she would bring a package of diapers whenever she saw us. Since we were always broke and diapers were so pricey, we loved this.
Shoes -- She takes the kids shoe shopping a couple of times a year (--more often for my middle school son who is growing every day-- usually without me and often without their sibling). This is an insanely generous gift because if I were in charge, they would be bought at Target. Instead, she buys them each one pair of really nice shoes that they just love, have been professionally fitted, and hence get worn all the time.
Amazon Prime -- the family subscription. We pay for whatever we buy with our own credit card and it gets shipped directly to our house, but her kids get free shipping. I LOVE this one. I'm quite sure I drive her nuts with how much stuff we buy (even if I just need a shoe rack or a pencil sharpener, usually it is cheaper and easier to order it online and then it arrives at our door the next day).
Consumer Reports -- helps us make great decisions by giving us the tools and information to make them. She buys the subscription but we can sign-in whenever we want and check ratings. This gift has given us the best possible: fridge, dishwasher, washer, dryer, camera, printer, minivan, car, camcorder, etc.
Memberships -- Most years since the kids were born, she has bought us a membership. Sometimes the botanical gardens other times an arboretum or a children's museum or zoo. We love these memberships and it gives our family something free and fun and educational to do with our time. Most memberships have reciprocal programs so we have even been able to use our membership across the country. Our memories at these places are some of my favorites... and almost every time we use it, I text her a quick picture.
Lessons -- Multiple times she has said, "I think that would be really good for them; if you want her to have private swim lessons (or gymnastics or piano or guitar or karate or theater), I'll pay for a portion of the lessons." This kind of gift helps the kids grow and be nurtured but it doesn't involve more stuff.
Now of course, these are not all at once; they are scattered throughout our lives and some things sunset while others begin, but these kind of gifts create memories. These abstract and often intangible gifts from their grandmother are some of our family favorites. I've never been a big pile of presents sort of person and these sort of things are a reminder of her love every time we use them. There isn't one time that my DH and I haven't looked at each other while enjoying a lovely afternoon at the arboretum or using consumer reports after our fridge breaks and said, "God Bless Her" and "I hope to some day do this for our grown children."