At the end of a long school day in Belgium, I would often walk or take the bus and get to my home by 3:30. As I walked in the front door, heavy book bag on my shoulder, seven classes under my belt, I dropped everything and hugged my mother who was usually waiting for me at our dining room table. A pot of tea sat, brewing, on a nice tablecloth and I could smell the recently baked lemon tea loaf before seeing it partially sliced on the bread board. We would sit down, the two of us, and talk about our day, and other topics as we drank and ate, and the classroom would slowly recede from my mind. Those moments of respite created by mother felt luxurious and continue to guide me today.
I believe in the little luxuries of life. This week, that meant leaving my work behind to enjoy a four mile hike at Pokagon State Park on a glorious sunny fall day, knowing the snow might fly soon. Last week, it meant having a freshly made piece of autumn stolle and a ginger snap with my postprandial espresso. Sometimes, it means spending money. That happened when we were fortunate enough to get a reservation at a world famous restaurant in Girona, Spain, and we indulged in a once in a lifetime five hour meal. But mostly, it requires giving myself the time to enjoy a dramatic sunset, or a warm fire, or a special edible treat. It is a way to say, “I believe in you and you are doing O.K.”
Often, we make a meal together. We plan out the menu, buy the ingredients, and take the time to make it right. And then, we add on the little pieces that turn it into a little luxury: a special wine, a lovely tablecloth, a bright bouquet of flowers. The setting and the food together turn into something more than the pieces by themselves. As holiday time approaches, we think of these details a little bit more. But there is no reason not to continue the feeling throughout the year.
Little luxuries come with the idea that I love myself. I feel good enough about myself that I give myself those little luxuries to cherish and enjoy. I am generous to myself and in turn, I want to also be generous to others. The spirit of little luxuries starts to extend beyond my world and reaches on to others. If I don’t know how to give to myself, I won’t know how to give to others. It is all about love and caring enough to take the time. As I sit here this morning, with a good cup of coffee and a slice of delicious bread slathered with Nutella and butter, I take a deep breath, taking in the luxury of life. The art on my walls won’t keep me warm, but it brightens my spirit. The food I am eating won’t make me live longer but it makes my life richer. The time to enjoy won’t last forever, but the feeling of taking it all in changes me now as I go forward in my day.
So before the busy holiday season begins (and don’t believe what you see, it hasn’t started yet!), think first about yourself and what it means to truly give. And then, joyfully share those little luxuries with others.