My sister, Traci, liked to give gifts. She and my mother are very similar in this way. They love to find little knick-knacks and trinkets to give people. Traci often bought things at yard sales or thrift stores and then gave them to me, my husband or my kids. To be honest, it got on my nerves. I'm a person who likes things uncluttered and it never helped to have someone piling gifts in the front door while I was trying to push the excess out the back door.
But now I realize my attitude was all wrong. Really - should I have been annoyed by someone who was too generous? Whose symbols of love were overly abundant? Considering the amount of selfishness in the world, this is hardly a problem.
Now that Traci is gone, I look around and the traces of her are everywhere. She's left a trail of gifts, some wonderful, some silly, some a little absurd, but at least she left a trail. Her trail of gifts was a trail of love. I went to put a band-aid on Mason's finger yesterday, and even there, in the humble bathroom cabinet, were two boxes of jazzy-looking band-aids given to the kids by Traci. Is there a bathroom cabinet anywhere among my friends or family members that holds something so silly and precious from me? I would have to say not.
I have never read the book The Five Languages of Love, but I know the gist of that book. It's about how different people "speak" and "hear" love different ways. Some feel loved by acts of service. For some, it's physical touch. (That seems to cover most men.) For some, it's words of appreciation. (Hear, here.) Some like an investment of time. And for others, it's giving gifts. I would say that gifts are the least important of those things for me. Which is why all those gifts never really turned me on.
But I sure am glad I have them now. Each little one is like a lasting love-note from Traci. Thanks, Traci, for the ceramic hummingbird, the purple velvet negligee, the Anne Gedes book, the rubber stamp of an angel. For the jazzy band-aids, the fuchsia kitten, the "Sissy and Smooch" set, the dress-up poodle and the soccer-ball gum you gave my kids. And the airplane picture frame, black travel case and Home Depot card you gave my husband. And all the other stuff, too. I probably didn't say it just then. So, thanks. You gave us a lot of stuff and I wasn't always thrilled, but it took losing you to see what you gave. You gave continual reminders that you cared, love-notes that remain even with you gone.