Caring people teach caring
I thought I would like to begin this new year, here
in my corner of the western world, with an increased attitude of
appreciation and gratefulness.
So, I have been practicing.
I received an email holiday card from a friend the
other day as many of you likely did.
It was a stupid card, really (so it obviously wasn’t the one you
sent). But I thought about
how it said, however it said it, that the person had taken a moment to
think about me in their otherwise busy life.
And I appreciated that – got me beyond the judgment and into the
I live in a culture where the exchange
of gifts is a Christmas holiday tradition.
More and more over the years I find myself wishing for less and
less. This year someone
gave me a gift of something that I already have – and the one I have is
better than the one they gave me.
But I let myself think about how kind it was of them to think of
me and to go so far as to actually take the trouble to decide on and
wrap up a present for me.
And I appreciated how they knew enough to get me something I would want
(after all, I have one so I must like it).
That was a kind act on their part. That kind act was, in itself,
the greatest of gifts – I mean, what is kinder than acting with
generosity towards another person.
What the gift was, was
far less important than that
the gift was.
I was walking down the street yesterday
and encountered a neighbor.
As we approached he took of his glove and extended his hand for a
Holiday handshake. It was
minus 15 and I really would have encouraged him to leave the gloves on –
but it was a gesture of human contact and connection.
Another great gift, don’t you think?
My old great aunt Betty remembers my
birthday every year. She’s
91 so I am not really sure how she does it but she does.
I don’t really care how she does it – I just love getting a card
and scrawled note in the mail from this old lady who, for whatever
reason, has chosen to honour me with a place in her memory.
Makes a guy feel pretty special, it does.
That’s a feeling to be appreciated.
I am grateful to have her in my life.
I was also thinking over the holiday
break – call it Christmas, call it whatever you want – about how
fortunate I am to be able to work with people – yes, the young folks and
their families – but I was thinking more about the people who work with
young people and their families.
It got me to thinking about what a great gift that is – to have
professional colleagues who care enough to do caring with others.
Sure does beat my first warehouse job.
This thought popped up: ‘Caring people
teach caring’. If we do
nothing else in our work but teach caring, that would, in itself, be a
wonderful thing. And I
think that we can do that by helping others to ‘notice’ the little
things about which they might be grateful.
I am not talking about being silly here, like ‘noticing that the
bully paid attention to you’ – but you could be grateful it wasn’t
worse. I am thinking about
how we might help people who do not always think they are worth noticing
all the ways in which people say that they are – like a wave or
a smile, or the simple nod of the head, the gift of acknowledgement.
Or noticing the little ways people reach out to them, whoever
those people are, like the friend who drops you a note, the relative who
gives you a useless present, or the bump of the shoulder of an
acquaintance; the gift of contact. Or noticing how they are able to
think their own thoughts and make their own decisions; the gift of free
will and independence.
Surely these are things for which we might be grateful.
On the other hand, if you choose to be negative, to
view everything as ‘not enough’, to see manipulation in every encounter
then, there is this: aren’t you grateful that you can make that decision
Anyway, as that last comment shows, I do
need to practice. So, I
will. In little ways.
And I will try to be grateful for every time I succeed.
Thanks for this opportunity.