How the 12 Days of Christmas Gifts Are Similar to the 12 Gifts of Love

by | Dec 5, 2023 | 2 comments

A red knitted hear in a snowy pine tree

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.”

Arthur Schopenhauer

Philosopher, Author; The World as Will and Representation

I believe that the genius of humans is the ability to love. Love is something no one can see – only feel. People often say that they just know when someone loves them. There is some truth to that, though it may not show up in the extravagant gestures portrayed in the movies and on social media.

It’s more likely to show up in ways similar to the longest, and arguably, the least loved traditional Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, with its exhaustive laundry list of gifts given by a true love to the singer of the song. There have been as many variations of the types of birds and the list of gifts given in the song just as there have been variations of the types of love shared between people everyday.

The current common list of gifts in the song are:

  • 1 partridge in a pear tree
  • 2 turtle doves
  • 3 french hens
  • 4 calling birds
  • 5 golden rings
  • 6 geese a-laying
  • 7 swans a-swimming
  • 8 maids a-milking
  • 9 ladies dancing
  • 10 lords a-leaping
  • 11 pipers piping
  • 12 drummers drumming

Because so many people get engaged at Christmas and so many couples split up after Christmas it’s a good idea to review a list of the gifts of love given to you by the person who professes to love you, and what gifts of love you are prepared to give to someone you profess to love.

1. Feeling Safe

Safety is a cornerstone of love. A gift of love means feeling free to make your own decisions and express yourself without fearing putdowns or criticism.

2. Feeling Heard

A gift of love is when someone actively listens to you by asking questions and waiting their turn to share instead of immediately diverting the conversation to their own experience or issues. You get a sense they really care instead of feeling brushed off with a detracted “Uh huh” or” Wow that sucks.”

3. Accepting Differences

No matter how much you may share with the person you love, or who says they love you, you are different people, so you will never feel the same way about everything. The gift of love is for them to accept your individual ideas and feelings as part of who you are and your acceptance of theirs.

4. Communicating Easily

Since you can’t read each other’s mind, a gift of love requires open, honest communication. Talking through issues that really matter to you means showing up, physically and mentally (without looking at a screen or listening while multitasking). If someone you love had a hard time expressing thoughts and emotions, don’t assume they don’t love you, look at their willingness to learn and practice communication skills.

5. Encouraging Independence

When you love someone or someone says they love you, recognizing that you have separate identities is a gift of love. Maintaining your own friendships and interests is a gift of love you give each other instead of expecting for each to fulfill the needs of the other.

6. Feeling Trusted

The gift of love is when you feel safe enough to share opinions and emotions, open up about challenges you face, and ask them for help.

7. Making an Effort

The idea of one-and-only instant love is unrealistic and sometimes suggests controlling or manipulative behavior. The gift of love is when love is built from the ground up and shored up by prioritizing time together, expressing an interest in your daily life, being prepared to talk about disagreements or conflict, agreeing to try new things together, and expressing commitment to mutual growth as partners.

8. Collaborating & Compromising

A gift of love is understanding that the relationship will have conflicts and when it does, to work together as partners to find solutions for areas of disagreement.

9. Feeling Respected

The gift of love is polite and considerate language, even during arguments. It is being honest and not pressuring you to control you.

10. Appreciating the Little Things

The little things that mean a lot. The gift of love is most visible in the small moments of everyday life when you’re handed a cup of coffee in the morning once you make it to the kitchen.

11. Wanting Love to Last

Recognizing the gift of love does not come easily to everyone is a gift of love in and of itself. Giving someone the extra support to learn how to express feelings in healthy ways is the greatest gift of love you can give.

12. Wanting the Best for You

The gift of love recognizes love’s impermanence. Love doesn’t always mean “together forever.” It is often possible to salvage a crumbling relationship when the gift of love is still present. However when irreconcilable differences occur, the gift of love by someone who truly loves you will let you go once it becomes clear the relationship has run its course.

For me, the best Christmas movie about love is Love Actually. The characters are falling in love, falling out of love – some are with the right people, some are with the wrong people, some are looking to have an affair – and some are mourning over love’s loss. At all ages and social levels it has every example of love: young infatuation, lustful love, rebound/unspoken love, forbidden love, obsessive love, friendly love, and familial love. It’s about how love works and what gifts love gives to make it work – a hermetically sealed connection.

Wishing you the gift of love this Christmas and always!

What do you think? Please feel free to leave a comment below.


  1. Love these! Such helpful reminders!

  2. What a lovely reminder as we navigate the hectic Christmas season that our love and respect are the best gifts of all.


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Legal Disclaimer

The information in this article is for educational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship. I am a writer who is also a lawyer, helping lay people learn about law-related issues. Consult a qualified lawyer in your jurisdiction for all legal opinions for your specific situation.

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