By Jennifer Liyanage
When the holiday season rolls around, many people flee to Amazon or their nearest Target in search of gifts for their families. Some people search for the perfect gift, some for the most expensive, and some for the most heartfelt. For some, gift giving may even be a competition. However, this type of gift giving can become a distraction from the true purpose of the holidays: enjoying the company of your family and friends.
Many of us feel pressure to find our loved ones the perfect gift because gift giving has long been considered a prime way to express love. However, research suggests that gestures do not need to be large or come with a hefty price to feel meaningful. A study in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationship suggests that not only grand overtures, but also small acts of kindness can make people feel loved and supported.
“Our research found that micro-moments of positivity, like a kind word, cuddling with a child, or receiving compassion make people feel most loved,” Dr. Zita Oravecz, a professor in human development and family studies at Pennsylvania State University and one of the study’s researchers, said to NPR.
Although receiving materialistic gifts can make our friends and family feel loved in a sense, simply giving a hug or writing a heartfelt letter might make people feel loved with the same intensity. One’s compassion can go a long way, even though we may think it is not enough to fulfill the idea of a “perfect” gift for our friends and family this holiday season.
Today in society many of us get so caught up in trying to buy gifts that we don’t see that, solely spending time with our family may be enough to make someone feel loved.
Personally, during the holidays I received many tangible gifts like pajamas, shoes, and electronics but what I remember years later is not the color of my sweater, but rather the time spent talking with my cousins and laughing with my grandma. I do not get to see them very often, so having the genuine satisfaction of a human conversation with them is a better gift than any present could offer.
So, we should not get caught up in trying to find the perfect gifts for everyone. Instead, we should focus on interacting with people because sharing our company with friends and family will be the best gift they can receive.