Who doesn't love Ellen Degeneres? Now, I'm not a faithful viewer of her show, but I do follow her on social media, watch show clips, and am consistently blown away by her heart and generosity. Ellen's birthday was at the end of January, and as a birthday present, her wife, Portia surprised her with an incredible gift.
Amazing, right? What particularly struck me (and honestly, make me tear up) was not only how generous and selfless this gift was, but how clearly Portia demonstrated how she understands Ellen's heart. Even though Ellen wasn't the direct recipient of the gift it still meant so much to her, because she is now able to facilitate so much more giving that will continue to improve the world and lives of others.
This segment reminded me of one of my favorite questions that I've asked on social media, which was "what is the best gift you've ever received?" The most common answer was "my children/spouse/relationship". The second most common answer was along the lines of heartfelt gifts of experiences or moments that create memories that last a lifetime. These answers didn't so much surprise me, but reaffirmed something I think we all know... being seen, acknowledged, heard and loved means more to us than all the riches in the world.
As a floral designer, bridal bouquets are the best gift I can give a bride immediately before they walk down the aisle. I'm also often asked to make arrangements that will be given as gifts, but, and this may sound cliche, it is truly my greatest pleasure to create for others. Seeing the joy, the love, the pride that comes into play when I'm able to facilitate a gorgeous gift of flowers is the soul purpose I am a floral designer. The joy I experience out of pride in my work, and as a third party is my greatest reward.
That's the thing about giving... if you're doing it right, it will give you equally as much joy as the recipient. Sometimes we feel a pressure, and obligation to give because it is the thing to do. Every Valentines Day my husband asks me if I want flowers... as a barometer of how worn out I am from my work. Most Christmases I feel obligation to give gifts to a couple individuals (usually the hard-to-shop-for ones) and it is frustrating! This past year, rather than give a gift that would collect dust, in several cases, I chose to facilitate meaningful experiences and moments with the ones I love, because, I have come to understand that authentic moments of connection with our loved ones have longevity and will always mean so much more than yet another pair of socks, wallet or tie because they facilitate memories rooted in love.
Understanding that, and demonstrating how our loved ones feel love (have you ever heard of love languages?) will always go so much further than trinkets. It's ironic that one of my love languages is "gifts". For me, gifts aren't trinkets... they are tangible acknowledgements of something recognized, such as a gift certificate for a massage when my back is sore, a hot bowl of Pho when you're home sick with kiddos to tend to and no energy to make dinner and of course, flowers (which have a language of their own) to make someone smile when they're feeling down.
So, in the spirit of the season of love, I want to know, how do you demonstrate love? What are your love languages? What is the best gift someone has given you, or that you have given?
"It is good to be loved; it is profound to be understood."