When I was a little boy my family drove to Milwaukee every year to visit my grandparents. This was our summer vacation and it typically included a day at the Wisconsin State Fair. One year, I filled a little bottle with colored sand at the fair. When the vacation was over, my mother wouldn’t allow me to pack it into my suitcase. She didn’t want sand getting over everything if it should break in transit. I wanted to take my bottle home as a souvenir, and wasn’t happy with my mother’s decision. At that moment, my Grandmother gave me a shoebox to pack the bottle filled with colored sand for the ride home. This was 45 years ago and I’ve never forgotten my grandmother giving me her shoebox. To her, it meant nothing. It was a simple gesture that solved a problem. To me, it meant so much more. It meant I could keep my prized bottle of sand.
My grandmother, the shoebox and the bottle of sand are all long gone, but the memory of the moment when she handed me her shoebox remains vivid in my mind. I know many people who share similar experiences. Small things that happen, seemingly insignificant at the time, that open opportunity, provide comfort, or share a skill are important to relationships. The fact is, simple gestures can create beautiful, lasting memories.
The Ties That Bind. . .
A blog about the importance of relationships in life, health and business.
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The Feeling Lives On
My niece, Christina, tells a story of a shopping trip with my now-wife that happened at least 20 years ago. My wife, Sharon, doesn’t remember it but Christina remembers how she felt when Sharon told her to pick out anything in the store she wanted. I remember an apple pie baked especially for me and Sharon when we visited another grandmother over a decade ago. A friend of Sharon’s grandmother, Mary Keating, baked it . I don’t remember Mary, but I remember how it made us feel that she would take her time and talent to bake us a pie so we’d feel welcome.
Each time I think about one of these stories I smile and feel happy. Even on days where there is little to smile about, these memories of simple gestures lift me up. They remind me that little things we do can lift the spirits of others for years and even decades to come. It’s not the gesture, but the way that small, often unexpected gift makes us feel that lasts and is another tie that binds us closer together.
Dessert after Dinner
Small gestures are different than random acts of kindness. Random acts of kindness are wonderful, but typically not planned. Small gestures are usually planned in advance. They are never expected to be the big deal. Consider them dessert after the big dinner. A great dessert is sometimes more memorable than the main course. Never pass up the opportunity to make a small gesture to people around you. Your thoughtfulness, a helping hand, or a sharing of your expertise is all it takes to touch someone’s soul. And in the process transform an experience into a remembrance that lasts a lifetime.