When we lived in New Orleans, I picked up a word from our N’Awlins native neighbors—lagniappe. Though I haven’t much heard the word used north of Interstate 10, I think the concept is applicable everywhere. Lagniappe is a good thing, loosely defined as an unexpected bonus. Like the baker who slips in an extra cookie with your dozen or the extra encore a band plays at the end of their set, lagniappe is always a good thing, something to make others smile, something to warm cold hearts, something like a little gift. Unexpected. And good.
A smile to greet the scowl, an ear to listen despite a busy schedule, a flower to greet the sunshine, a shimmering moon across water—life and living is filled with lagniappe. Life and living is enriched by giving gifts. How special it feels to receive a present, even a simple one, tied carefully with a bow and given as if time and thought had gone into the gift. Gifts are important. There is nothing like a gift.
Could each day be a gift? Is it possible to think of each day as another opportunity to give of ourselves to those around us and those we love? Because if today is a gift, and if the above statements about giving gifts may be true, then putting time and thought into the day and the gift in the present must be important, as well.
Maybe, with thought and care, each task we go about in every day could become a way of giving of ourselves, of offering lagniappe. Maybe, with consideration on how we interact with others, we could put energy into ensuring the recipient of our time feels as if they have received something more than the end of our ropes—more than a gift shoved into a plastic grocery bag. Perhaps one of my favorite clothing store’s slogans carries truth plastered into the bottom of their shopping bags—“Be the Gift.”
Could it be that we might try to be our best each day, and offer ourselves to the world in which we interact with love? Could we be a gift to those around us? A little taste of lagniappe?
Something once said in encouragement to our children has stuck with me, “Never stop trying to be your very best.” If that could be true for adults even, we could take each day and try to be our very best. The key word is Try. Sure, it’s hard to give of ourselves, and even harder to live to be our very best. But if we try to be our very best, try to give of ourselves to others, try to live today as a gift, then by the merit of trying we have succeeded. Lagniappe.
Gifts are important. There is nothing like a well-given gift, to lift the spirits and to smooth the rough edges of life. Today, we can try to be our very best and offer a little lagniappe to others, to soften the hard edges of these times.
Today is a gift, with plenty of opportunities to give and find lagniappe.