Grand Rapids:

5 Ways to Appreciate Loved Ones in 2021

Let’s face it. 2020 has been one of the toughest and most significant years on record, for both your health and your connections to those you love. Once the pandemic gripped the world, everything seemed to stop in its tracks and created a bubble of isolation, frustration, and needless deaths. Yet one thing is for certain, no matter the distance or the obstacles, staying in touch with loved ones and appreciating every moment of life is the theme going forward. It’s time to take a moment to look at the relationships in your life. Whether they are right there in your neighborhood or across the world, everyone is blessed with people you appreciate and never take for granted. When was the last time you expressed your appreciation to those individuals for the role they play in your life?  Here are 5 ways to appreciate loved ones. 

By randomly reaching out and expressing your gratitude, you not only tug on their heartstrings, but you communicate how much you value the relationship before it’s too late. If friendships and loving connections are healthy and satisfying, it’s all too easy to overlook what they might need and how you can continue to play a pivotal role in their life. Instead, view every relationship as necessary and memorable, more so during the pandemic. 

Ideas to move forward into a new year 

Plan a virtual dinner date. Invite someone you care about on a FaceTime or Zoom call for a home-cooked meal. It can be  a fun way to spend time catching up “in person.” Often, we spend much of our social time surrounded by others in restaurants, and since it’s not wise–or lawful under Covid-19 restrictions–to congregate in indoor settings, communicating through virtual dinner dating can be uniquely inspiring and imaginative, which communicates trust and respect.  It also provides the opportunity to relax and laugh the evening away.

Send a thank you card.  Sending a card, as opposed to a text message or email, is a very simple way to make someone feel very special.  The mail is still running smoothly and a thank you card can be for something specific they have done or to say thank you for everything they do. Either way, it will make them smile and give their hearts warm fuzzies.

Ask a loved one if they need anything.  Carve out the time to ask your loved ones if they need anything, no matter what. By showing you care and are there for them, it strengthens the bond even further. If you live near each other, a text to see if they need anything from the store can go a long way. Pick up a curbside delivery for them to help alleviate one less person on the road and one less task they have to think about. Regardless of location, reaching out to someone to see if there is anything you can do for them with no strings attached is a great way to make someone feel important to you.

Listen. The world can zoom by at a million miles per hour and seem like a rather unforgiving place. With the constant distractions you battle in your life each day, it’s becoming a rarity to have someone truly listen to your grievances or celebrations, or simply the mundane things about daily life. Be a good friend or family member, and take the time to turn down your cell phone ringer to hear what they are actually experiencing. It might even open your eyes to their vulnerable side and entrust their love more to you. Win-win.

Be aware of birthdays and special occasions.  Social media is one way to communicate celebratory good wishes to those on your friend’s list. But how about those loved ones who aren’t using Facebook or Twitter and a million other technologies to connect with people? When a social media channel provides alerts regarding a dear friend’s birthday, is sending a public message enough, or would a phone call and a snail mail card be more worthy? By putting a special emphasis on birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates–such as the day their loved one passed away–into your calendar, you are able to care for your friend on a deeper level than those who simply know their online personas.  

Wrapping up

Every relationship is different and has its own set of unique needs. Trust your understanding of the relationship boundaries, but don’t use those fences as an excuse to allow your appreciation to go unacknowledged. The last thing you want is for your loved one to pass away from the current virus (or any unforeseen illness, for that matter) and you weren’t available to be there for them. Showing how much you value someone is an essential part of a healthy relationship.

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you” — Ralph Waldo Emerson