The feeling I get after Christmas baking is rather like what I experience after a successful mammogram: relief and a reprieve for another year. Christmas baking, however, is less awkward, more painful, and takes quite a bit longer — and I can wear deodorant while I do it. I also like doing it (something I’ve never said about mammograms), I love the results — and I now know that is because chocolate is my love language.
A couple of weeks ago, a couple of students (who are literally a couple) happened to ask me what my love language is. Author and speaker Gary Chapman unveiled the five love languages years ago and has written a number of books directed at various audiences to help them discover love that lasts. The five include: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch; you can probably guess which one the teens who posed the question proudly claimed to have. These love languages are ways you show and are shown love, and I’m pretty sure the tendency is to show love the way you prefer to be shown love. In my case, according to Chapman, Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service are my love languages — but chocolate pretty much sums it up.
Making my Christmas packages of chocolate goodness takes me three days. By day’s end yesterday, this labor of love (or Act of Service) produced:
- 14 pans of caramel nut brownies
- 120 peanut butter balls (instead of 150, because I made them too big)
- hundreds of chocolate mint cookies
- 4 pans of walnut fudge
- 3 pans of Almond Joy fudge
- 5 batches of toffee
- an agonizing lower and upper back
- and 2 painful thumbs.
It is hard to explain the agony standing and sitting and bending to bake and package treats takes; I work out — hard — and know what pain is, but this is akin to being hit by a truck… Perhaps I exaggerate, but I tell you by the end of the baking ordeal I was determined to never, ever attempt the three-day bakeathon again. By Day Three of Christmas baking, my Acts of Service love language had been depleted. But then the deliveries began, and my “love cup” was filled by the Words of Affirmation I received.
- “Oh [delighted], is that what I think it is?”
- “Hmmm…. where can I hide this?”
- “Can’t I open it? She never shares.”
- “I’m taking this one home” (rather than sharing it with co-workers at the hair salon).
- and even “Oh, yes! I read about this on your blog and was hoping, hoping I’d get one!”
I get offers, such as this one, from others to help in the future:
“Since this is Adam’s last year, and this valued tradition should live on, Sydney and I are planning to be honorary Dagens and we shall unwrap caramels next year.”
I get sincere thanks and unbridled joy and other Words of Affirmation and I feel loved. I’ve heard of colleagues fighting over who got what, and of colleagues emptying the box and leaving it “empty” just to frustrate a fellow employee who had to help a patient. I’ve had parents complain that their children stole the peanut butter balls while they weren’t looking. My caramel brownies have been described as “Disney World in my mouth.” My toffee renamed “Heath Bar on steroids.”
These, my friends, are those “Words of Affirmation” that make my “Acts of Service” produced chocolates a selfish pursuit of love.
When my son delivered his new basketball coach a box of goodies yesterday, he received a text soon after practice:
The first part delighted my heart. But the last part? Noooooo!