To lend some background, if you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll recall that my family spent our annual childhood summer holiday in New Brunswick, on ‘the Farm’ with these cousins. They are the oldest two of Uncle Roy and Aunt Muriel’s six children. My dad and Uncle Roy were brothers and each summer Dad loaded up our station wagon, attached the homemade trailer and took us to our ‘most magical place on earth’ – the Farm. We loved these cousins. We created adventures with them, we ‘helped’ them with the milking of the cows on their dairy farm, we put in countless loads of hay, we found litters of kittens in the barn, we re-purposed an old cabin as a new fort, we sang together, pulled pranks together and played games. As far as we were concerned, going to the farm was better than Disneyworld; it was pure magic.
I was thrilled to hear David and Brian would be in town for a short visit and we made plans to head up to the airport the following evening. We fought the traffic and arrived just in time. Jim texted Brian to let him know we were just outside the arrivals doors. And Brian immediately called Jim, but not with the message we were expecting!
Brian told Jim they would not be coming through the doors because he was still in New Brunswick! In his sugar bush, tending to the late run of maple syrup. Brian did assure us though, that they would be arriving in Calgary at the exact same time, on the same flight on Saturday evening. We were two days early! When we re-looked at Jim’s text, sure enough, it said Saturday. We knew Jim couldn’t make it on Saturday but I could, and for two days I looked forward to seeing David and Brian.
My visit did not disappoint. It always feels like home to see my cousins and this was no exception. We found a restaurant and visited over dinner. Of course, we caught each other up on the comings and goings of our spouses, our siblings, our children, our siblings’ children, our children’s children and each other. I asked them about their parents, our much-loved Uncle Roy and Aunt Muriel and I was delighted to hear that they continue to be well.
When I specifically asked about Aunt Muriel, David mentioned that he felt she must be just fine because she still let him steal a cookie from her cookie tin every time he came in her kitchen.
The cookie tin.
Just the mention of this iconic tin flooded me with memories. Aunt Muriel received this cookie tin in May of 1955 as a shower gift. I can’t say for absolute sure that she started filling it with ginger snaps that very month, but I do know that as long as I’ve been alive, and I’m guessing as long as David, who is four years my senior, has been alive, it has been sitting on her farmhouse kitchen counter, filled to varying heights, depending on the flow of visitors, with her famous ginger snaps.
For us, Aunt Muriel’s cookie tin was about so much more than cookies. While the cookies inside it were wonderful, the much more important part was the cookie tin itself. This cookie tin is not fancy and it doesn’t pretend to be. Neither does Aunt Muriel. Both are much more about the quality of what is on the inside rather than making a show of what is on the outside.
To lend some perspective, Aunt Muriel is not one of those eighty-year-old women who sits waiting for someone to arrive to share a cookie with. She is in fact eighty years old, but most days it’s hard to find her at home. She teaches and volunteers for St. John Ambulance and is the unit leader for that organization. She is a volunteer with Victim Services and she volunteers for the Sharing Club. She knits baby hats for the Mother’s Cupboard at the Regional hospital and knits prayer shawls for the church.
Each of us would do well to find and proudly display a version of our own cookie tin. For most, it will look nothing like the one on Aunt Muriel’s counter. For all of us it will represent our truest, life-long values.
For me and my siblings and my cousins, that cookie tin doesn’t look old or worn out. Rather, just like our Aunt Muriel, it looks like pure welcoming love.
When David and Brian finish curling in Saskatoon and arrive back home in New Brunswick, no doubt sometime next week they will find themselves walking through the back door of Aunt Muriel and Uncle Roy’s house into the kitchen. And when they do, whether they have won or lost, they’ll find a ginger snap cookie waiting for them in the beautiful cookie tin on the counter.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What’s in my cookie tin?’
Elizabeth is a certified, professional Life and Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is also the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership and personal coaching for individuals and teams. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. Contact Elizabeth and allow her to help you find your cookie tin.