It's been almost fifteen years since both of our children have lived in this province and have been here for Christmas. This was to be THE year. The year we could all sit down together for Christmas dinner, at Greg and Cara’s newly renovated home, just enjoying each other’s company. It’s not to be.
When I wear my ‘big girl panties’, I know this is a very small deal. I can list all the reasons why this is so, and why it must be so. I can find endless examples of people who have endured many greater hardships. But as my friend Sandy said, when their home was flooded in the big flood of 2013, ‘I know it’s just stuff, but it’s our stuff’.
Why then I found myself chuckling when I pulled in to get gas this week remains a mystery. I wasn’t in the giggling mood, and yet as I pulled alongside the self-serve gas pump, I was imagining myself rolling down my window and saying confidently, ‘Fill ‘er up, please!’ To be clear, there was no one there to fill ‘er up, I was after all, at the self-serve. Secondly, I don’t think anyone says fill ‘er up anymore and yet I had the urge to say it.
I remember this expression from when I was a small girl. I recall my father saying it. I always thought it was a wonderful thing for someone to have the money and the confidence to exclaim such a thing. I could only imagine the day when I would have enough of my own money, and a car, and would be able to do this myself. I haven’t heard this expression in years. But this week, just when I was feeling sorry for all of us, it arrived in my head where it has been rattling around for days.
As I drove along that day, I was listening to a newly released set of stories by Stuart McLean. This Canadian treasure died several years ago. Luckily for us, he lives on through the voice we still hear in his stories. About two Christmases before he died, Jim and I had the delight of seeing, and more importantly, hearing him, in person in Calgary where he headlined a Christmas show. I can still picture him walking onto the stage and hear the welcome of the crowd. I am imagining him a few seconds before he took the stage, perhaps standing in the wings, perhaps running through a pre-show ritual, or perhaps saying to himself, “Ok Stuart. Fill ‘er up.” Fill up this auditorium with laughter and love. Fill up these hearts with Christmas cheer. Fill up each of us with the spirit of Christmas.
Since my little gas fill and drive, I’ve been thinking about this expression ‘Fill ‘er up’. This is the same expression used when a person has an empty glass. They set it down and exclaim, ‘Fill ‘er up!’ I’m noticing a lot of empty glasses these days. Perhaps this might be the perfect season to start thinking about filling ‘er up. This simple old expression just might be exactly what we need to quietly say to ourselves over and over this season, as we figure out unique ways to mark this special holiday, without any of our familiar special traditions.
Perhaps just before we put our feet on the floor after waking each morning, we can remind ourselves to Fill ‘er Up. Fill up the day before us with actions and words that honour the Christmas spirit. Perhaps as we chit chat at a checkout we can think to ourselves, Fill ‘er Up. Fill up the space, instead of with complaints, with a compliment or a thank you. Maybe we can Fill ‘er Up by helping out a little cause we might normally hear about but get too busy to donate to. We can Fill ‘er Up as we make calls to friends, filling their minds with something new to think about, or simply filling up some minutes of these dark December days.
There are so many ways we can think of to Fill ‘er Up. I know teachers have been figuring out ways to fill up their students these past months. Yes, they have filled them with knowledge, and opportunities to learn, but they have also filled them with safety, with kindness, with reassurances, and with good memories. Our essential workers in grocery and other stores have continued to fill all of us up. They have filled us with the things we have needed, sometimes at great personal expense to them, to allow us to continue to have what we need. Our health care workers continue to Fill ‘er Up. I’m not sure how they continue to do this – I didn’t notice any of them filling up their own tanks when I was in the hospital recently. And yet, they continue to fill up their patients. They fill them using their competencies, their incredible skill and their compassion. I was filled up in small ways, when nurses stopped by in the middle of the night to bring me a small glass of ginger ale, and to take me for a lap, so I could gain strength to go home. There was no complaining on their end; there was a lot of filling up given to me.
As Christmas grows nearer and nearer, and our hopes of it being normal grow smaller and smaller, we can each find ways to Fill ‘er Up. With small kindnesses, we can fill up not only those we live with and those we encounter, but we can also up fill up ourselves. May we each have full hearts this season.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘How can I Fill ‘er Up?’
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 ‘Fill er Up’ in your workplace, in your home and in your heart.