Impossible though it may seem, things only improved as we stepped into the lobby of the hotel. Fondly known as Castle in the Rockies, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is world famous. Wandering through its beautifully decorated hallways and ballrooms, it’s hard to imagine someone envisioned and then had this masterpiece built over 130 years ago.
Sitting in the dining room, while the food on our plates was magnificent, the view out the window beside our table was the true showstopper. I’ve been there many times and it never ceases to make me want to pinch myself.
Our family started this tradition of a Christmas season Sunday brunch some years ago. As our family expands, so does the size of the table. As I sat with everyone on Sunday, I couldn’t help but think about what a luxury this tradition is. Of course, the hotel itself is luxurious. So is the food. So is the atmosphere. But as I sat, producing interesting items from my purse to amuse Benjamin, and listening to the conversations, I started to think about what it means to live in luxury.
Never before had I considered my life to be luxurious. We do not have a particularly luxurious house. Our cars are of the domestic variety. Until my most recent car, five years ago, I had always driven a second hand car. My clothes are nice, but would not be described as luxurious. The food we typically eat is healthy, and very good, but not luxurious (unless Cara and Greg are treating us to some of their gourmet treats). We tend to be a camping family, rather than a luxurious hotel family. We want for very little, but we don’t live extravagantly.
And yet, on Sunday, as we ate together, and as we drove to and from Banff, I could think of many, many luxuries I enjoy. It turns out, I am surrounded by luxury.
While we were eating brunch, Kaitlyn, who loves to bake and who is quite accomplished at it, mentioned (while nibbling on a mince tart) that she thinks her pie crust could use some tweaking. She asked me if I could help her. I too love to bake and have made many hundreds of pies over the years. Yes, I would love to make pies with her, I replied. Inside of me I thought, this, this is luxury; having my daughter wanting to spend time with me doing such a simple thing.
On Monday, I took care of Benjamin, having changed my regular day of Friday to Monday for this week. We have a little routine on our days together. Our mornings are spent outside, wandering in nature. After playing with his cars, and making and eating lunch, I ask him to get me some books to read before his nap. He often chooses a ‘truck’ book, carrying it over to me, and turning around backward so I can pick him up in my lap. ‘Read?’ he asks. When we read, I hold the book with both my hands and he rests his little hands on my wrists. As I read, I can feel his hand as he gently pulses his little thumb against the underside of my wrist. This, this is luxury; sitting peacefully with this boy, who I love so much.
After dropping Ben off on Monday afternoon, I headed over to Greg and Cara’s new house. Renovations have been underway there for a couple of months. While a crew has been demolishing, framing, wiring and plumbing, Greg has been designing and building cabinets, framing doorways and hanging new doors. Yesterday, the tradespeople moved out, signifying it was time for Greg and Cara to be able to start painting. Knowing they have been living in their basement, using a hotplate and microwave, I thought they might like a ‘real’ meal so I offered to take one over. It wasn’t fancy. When I got there, it was dark. They had bright lights set up on the main floor, and using those and some camping headlamps, they were in the midst of taping up the windows so Greg could spray paint the new frames. I asked if I could help and together, we finished the final couple of hours of taping. I left them to have supper, knowing they would be working late into the night again. As I drove home, I thought this, this is luxury; having our son and daughter-in-law living close enough by, after more than a decade of living away, that I can stop by to visit and help.
Luxuries have been showing up in my mind all week. I’ve been making a habit of recognizing them and naming them to myself. It is a luxury that both our children will be spending Christmas with their in-laws, and that we are invited to join in; how lucky are we they each married into welcoming and loving families. It is a luxury that I have sisters and brothers who keep in regular contact with me, and whom I love being with when we are in the same part of the country. It is a luxury to attend Christmas functions with my Jim; to not have to navigate alone. It is a luxury to have my friend meet me for a walk with Ben. It is a luxury for me to have friends to spend time with. It is a luxury to have friends to share my hobbies. It is a luxury to receive an email from my friend wishing me a Merry Christmas. It is a luxury to snack upon a childhood treat, a wishbone candy, brought to me by one of my dancing friends. It is a luxury to dance in a little Christmas parade.
I don’t know why I did not know I had a luxurious life. I think I may have been defining it incorrectly. I am not sparkly, or beautiful or rich. But my life is filled to the brim with luxury. This season, I plan to celebrate all my luxuries.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What is luxury?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to recognize luxury.