Ah, Christmas, how I love thee. And kinda loathe thee (just being honest!) For a gifts person like myself, it’s both heaven and all kinds of hell. I love buying gifts, wrapping gifts, giving gifts and receiving gifts. I don’t like the agony over what to buy, the stress that I haven’t brought the right thing, or enough things and all other kinds of ‘things’ that seem to do my head in around Christmas time. But, it was never meant to be this way, was it? We all know that Christmas has become pretty well driven by consumerism and materialism. As with most other ‘holiday’ or festive days. Alas, I digress. What I wanted to talk about, was one of MY favourite things in the ENTIRE world.
Give me all the gifts (that sounds a bit like I should add “mwahahahaha” at the end!)
Yeah, I love presents. As I’ve already said. Twice. However, my husband is not a gifts fan (what even is that??? Weirdo … jokes). There is a great book I once read called “The five love languages” (Chapman, 2010). According to that book, my ‘love language’ is gifts. Nooooo, really??? But, my husbands’, is ‘acts of service’. Not cool. I hate doing stuff. I’d rather buy him something. But no, his love language has to be ‘acts of service’ (insert massive eyeroll). Therefore, instead of buying him a thoughtful gift to fill his ‘love tank’, I gotta do the darn dishes or peg out the washing or wash the floors. AAARRGHHH. KILL ME NOW. Ok, ok, I’m being dramatic. But only slightly (Seriously though, I like seeing his happy face when I’ve cleaned the house :-))
Picture Christmas at my house. Me, tearing open presents, excited, thanking everyone, love tank overflowing. Nic, asking the kids to open his for him (what the hec), giving a little nod and an ever so slight, “yeah, thanks”. Now, it’s not that he isn’t grateful, because he is. It’s just that gifts are not his thing.
Which brings me to the ways we show gratitude to others. Not only is it important that we consider a person’s likes if we are expressing gratitude through a gift, but it is also vital in considering cultural traditions and practices when we express gratitude. Howells (2012) shares the example of the Aboriginal culture, where it is not necessary to say thank you. For Aboriginal people, giving and helping is a part of their culture, and therefore the need to say ‘thank you’ is obsolete, and can even be inappropriate. This is so important to remember in my future practice as a teacher.
Research by Naito and Washizu states that “culturally shared believes and values affect the expression of gratitude and repayment to benefactors” (2015, p. 3). They provide examples of Thai women whose gratitude expressions may be comparatively less than Western women. This is because the Buddhist religion practised by many in Thailand, does not focus on the need for material items or the desire for them (Naito and Washizu, 2015).
In thinking about what expression of gratitude will be best received by a person, it is really important to consider aspects such as individual likes, cultural differences and in my case (or yours, if you so desire), love languages. I mean, we all express love. We all express gratitude. So, understanding and learning a person’s language of gratitude, will go a long way toward cultivating and building relationships.
Now, excuse me, I’m going to shake my Christmas presents under the tree …
Chapman, G. (2010). The five love languages. Michegan, United States: Cengage.
Howells, K. (2012). Gratitude in education: A radical view. Sense publishers.
Naito, T. and Washizu, N. (2015). “Note on cultural universals and variations of gratitude from an East Asian point of view”, International Journal of Behavioural Science, 10(2), 1-8.