Lagniappe. A rather unique custom, originating in Louisiana....a mixture of words of French Creole and Native Americans that means a "little something extra", usually from a vendor of some sort. If you bought a cake from a pastry shop, the baker might toss a couple of extra cookies in a small bag as "lagniappe"...an unexpected gift. You get the concept.
It occurs to me that while this is a Louisiana custom, and a delightful one, that all of us experience lagniappe, but may not be aware of it.
Last night I drove to have dinner with a friend and while driving north of Montgomery saw the most incredible sunset I have seen in years....to the point that I pulled off of the freeway, parked for a moment to sit and just look....look at the fiery reds, oranges, yellows, with wispy high clouds laced in violets and blues. It was stunning.
Then. Then!! ....last night was a full moon, and those thin lacy clouds were illuminated to the point of white fireworks...in a few hours the sky had turned to sterling, silver, and moonbeam with an incredible light cast from the Man in the Moon. I took the time to stop and let it drench in.
That's a lot of description.....flowery language, but last night in closing my eyes I felt as though I had received some lagniappe...a free gift, a little something special.
When I woke up this morning I was still thinking about it. I thought about the times that I took the exact same road at the exact same time, but never stopped, my mind being too filled with important things that within twenty-four hours I could not even remember.
I have a feeling that our lives are literally filled with lagniappe, but we don't see it. It may not be a tangible gift, like a bag with a couple of free cookies, but it might be in the people and world that surround us.
Did we miss a genuine smile from someone behind the counter where we trade? Did we miss the real beauty of a three-year old coming at us at a dead run, unbridled joy, arms open to grab your knees and hug you? I put great store in three year olds....they don't know enough yet to practice the adult skills of artifice.
I have decided to look for it....lagniappe in my life. It's there for all of us in some measure. It's a phone call from a friend, someone holding the door as we struggle with packages, it's the people who help us keep our lives running that we don't tend to appreciate nearly enough, it's an incredible sunset followed by a phenomenal moonrise...all gifts, mostly undeserved, and freely given.
But it's also people treating one another with respect, dignity, care, and consideration, whether they are someone in our family, someone at work, or a neighbor who happens to live on the other side of the world. ALL people deserve to be treated in a respectful manner. And that's where we have to realize that in the real spirit of the word, we can't just be takers of lagniappe, we have to give back in good measure.
Today I am going out looking for my lagniappe in whatever form it might choose to take. We are given gifts every day, whether we choose to see them or not.
I just hope that others will see the lagniappe in me.