Gifts From the Heart

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Do you know your love language? Marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a bestseller called The 5 Love Languages, helping to bridge the gap between couples that were missing each other in how they expressed and recognized love. According to Chapman, the five love languages are: 1) Words of Affirmation; 2) Quality Time; 3) Receiving Gifts; 4) Acts of Service and 5) Physical Touch. You can find the one that best suits you in this online quiz.

My love language is Receiving Gifts. But before you go thinking she ain’t nothing but a gold digger, hear Chapman out: “Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.”

Gift giving and receiving obviously holds special meaning to me; I’m sure it is not without coincidence that the name of my blog is called This Too, Was a Gift. In my view, the real joy of giving is actually the time, meaning and thought put into choosing the gift. Of all the gifts that I have received over my lifetime, the ones that really stand out are those I know the giver had to put time aside to think about me as an individual.

In a 2007 New York Times article, Dr. Margaret Langer, a consumer psychologist at the University of California Davis said that giving to others reinforces our feelings for them and makes us feel effective and caring. Women in particular concern themselves with giving and receiving gifts that have emotional significance. I know I do.

I like to give gifts that I know will have special meaning to the recipient, whether it’s something they really want, has a connection to an experience we shared or encourages a passion that is important to them. The value of the gift is not in the price tag, but the thoughtful effort behind it.

I have probably given out a thousand gifts, but my favorite still has to be a little heart-shaped beach stone I found. It was the first gift I gave to my partner when we started dating and to this day, it remains the best of its kind I have unearthed.

gimli stone (2)I started collecting heart stones the year my marriage ended. One caught my eye during the first summer vacation I took alone with my kids. I had been having a difficult time relaxing, even sleeping, on that holiday as I was constantly haunted by the ghosts of family vacations past. But as I turned the stone over in the palm of my hand, I felt only serenity. I immediately knew that this was not some random rock, but a healing gift from the universe. It said Love is still all around you. 

Since then, I have been an avid collector of heart-shaped stones and I look for them on every beach we visit. Although they are hidden in plain view and a good scouring up and down a rocky shoreline will usually turn up one or two, to me, finding a heart stone is like extracting gold.

“Heart stones, lifted from their obscurity with all their cracks and blemishes, lopsided and imperfect, are simply the best,” says Heart Stones author Josie Iselin. “The heart stone is a lovely vessel. When you take it home and set it on your windowsill or dresser; its presence buoys you up. When you give it to a friend or lover, you give what you have filled it with: strength, love and confidence. It is an intimate gift; the connections are powerful.”

One thing I love most about heart stones is how much they are like the hearts we carry within us. Their true beauty is in how they have been shaped and scarred by the elements then healed over with time. That is part of the gift. Discovering a good one is precious; being able to give it away to someone is priceless.