Despite the cold, and the continued impact of the very persistent pandemic, we had a wonderful Christmas. Greg and Cara spent time with Cara’s family, and Jim and I spent Christmas afternoon and dinner with Kaitlyn and Matt and little Ben and Andy. How lucky are we to be able to do this! When both our kids got married, one thing I was thrilled with was how much each of their partners value and love their own family. Not only do they love their families, they’ve also been willing to share them with us.
Over the years, we’ve become friends with both Cara and Matt’s parents. Even though we live miles apart, we treasure our time with them, and we appreciate how our family has been enriched by our friendships. Each year, we exchange little gifts of remembrance. This year, my favourite gift of all, came from Matt’s dad, Hughie.
Keeping in mind that I received some lovely gifts, this is a bold statement. Under my tree I found a new Garmin device that will allow Brenda and I to continue to adventure, now knowing we can send an SOS even if we are out of cell phone range. I also opened books and kitchen gadgets and hiking accessories. I have spectacular homemade knit mittens and an ornament. Despite all these beautiful, thoughtful gifts, Hughie outdid them all.
What was it that could have captured my heart so?
Hughie sent me a book. Not your average book. I’m guessing non of the readers of this blog will have heard of it.
Life’s Too Short to Fold Your Underwear
Yes, that’s it. Life’s Too Short to Fold Your Underwear. To make it even more of a treasure, it’s missing the first twenty-six pages. And it’s a re-gift. And it’s still my favourite.
Accompanying the book was a letter, in an envelope, that had written on the front, ‘For Elizabeth’s eyes only’. Of course, I was instantly intrigued!
In the letter, Hughie explained how the book had come into his possession. A school friend had given it to him some years ago. Her daughter had removed the first twenty-six pages, having been given permission to use the book for a school project. Hughie passed it along, ‘in the tradition of sharing what little we have’.
The book is composed of little stories, each with a bigger meaning than the details themselves, sort of in the fashion of Erma Bombeck or Jack Canfield. Hughie wrote that he has been reading my blog and he appreciates how I often move the reader from the day-to-day to a metaphor, allowing them to do some thinking and apply it to their own life. He encouraged me to ‘Keep writing’, signing off, ‘East Coast Hughie’.
I loved Hughie’s gift right from the start, even before I opened it properly. Yet I wasn’t completely sure what it was that had me hooked. As I write this blog today, my thoughts are becoming clearer. I realize it is not only the most wonderful Life’s Too Short to Fold Your Underwear that I love, it’s the accompanying letter and its contents that I truly treasure.
Each of us wishes to be seen. Really seen. Seen in the way of someone peaking inside us, without judgement, glimpsing some of our more precious dreams, desires, hopes and fears, and holding them tenderly, encouraging us, walking with us, and sometimes even nudging us along. I feel safe with Hughie Hanson holding my writing in this way.
Truth be told, I’m not the talented writer in our family and as our family has grown, I recognize I’m slipping further down the ranks. With a daughter, son-in-law, and daughter-in-law, all English majors of one sort or the other, and with Hughie and his lifetime of teaching literature, I, the Mathematics lover, do not pretend to be a writing expert. But I do love to think, and I love to put my thoughts onto paper, and I hope they speak to someone occasionally.
Hughie’s gift to me, the gift of being seen, is one I hope to pass on in 2022. May we each see, in this new year, parts of our family and friends, that they treasure and may find hard to easily share. Then may we champion them with our gentle encouragement and nudges, in the way of Hughie Hanson.
Happy New Year.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘Who do I see’?’
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 and has expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations and for conducting leadership reviews. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to see those in your life.