ERROL CASTENS: Sometimes, it really is the thought

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

Best thing I ever read for the health of my own marriage, outside of scripture itself, is “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. Not that I always heed its wisdom, but it’s there for the taking.
The short book’s premise is that everyone has one or more “languages” of emotion – words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch – that best express love to them.
My primary language, by Chapman’s definition, is quality time – front-porch recitations of family lore, narrated walks in the countryside and coffee-driven conversations about principle, pragmatism, dreams and dreads.
Sue’s fluent in all five love languages and needs to hear all of them regularly. However, she and I had agreed not to spend much on Christmas this time around, so I was in a pickle about what to put under the tree for her.
Inspiration finally came in “The 12 Days of Christmas” as rendered on “A Prairie Home Companion.” Our aforementioned budget wouldn’t afford the original drummers, pipers, lords, ladies, maids, swans, geese, rings, calling birds, French hens, turtledoves and partridge in a pear tree anyway, so a parallel parody seemed the best option.
In addition to a succession of small gifts (some actually useful, some not so much), the effort would also involve affirming statements, a few hours of shopping and preparation and, at the end, a big hug, which would touch on all five love languages.
After I’d made visits to the feed store, dollar store, grocery store, hunting store, English Standard Version and, Sue received daffodils about to break out of their dormancy, an assortment of condiments and seasonings, plastic storage containers with lids, kitchen utensils, self-adhesive bandages, frozen entrees, short scriptures in tiny frames, MP3 downloads from one of her favorite vocalists, long-distance cards to donate to the USO for servicemen’s use, inexpensive wines from Burgundy, her favorite chocolates and ammo, a box of which I hung from the lowest branch of the leafless linden in the front yard.
Explaining it all in verse, it sounded like this (remember to hum “The 12 Days of Christmas” while reading the list below):
* 12 bulbs a-bulging,
* 11 spices spicing,
* 10 bowls a-keeping,
* nine ladles hanging,
* eight Band-Aids sticking,
* seven Swanson dinners,
* six Jesus’ sayings,
* Michael Bolton sings,
* four calling cards,
* three French blends,
* two bars of Dove,
* and some cartridges in a bare tree.
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at

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