You can learn the most amazing things from the littlest people. Last week, my one-year-old granddaughter taught me a huge lesson about saying “Hello.” She knows how to do it right. Me? Well, let’s just say I’ve gotten a bit too complacent.
When someone Cora loves comes to where she already is, her excitement at seeing him or her is expressed with her whole body. A huge smile spreads across her face–ear to ear, no kidding. She throws her arms open in welcome and starts forward, a miniature version of an Italian grandma. (She has not one drop of Italian in her.) Then comes the best part. She does this delighted little happy dance where she hops from foot to foot in rapid succession before she comes running toward you.
That welcome still has me smiling a week later. In fact it impressed me enough to decide I want to do a better job of saying “Hello” to those I love myself. The first test of that commitment came yesterday. I wasn’t expecting myself to pull off the happy dance but I wanted to at least offer a warm, sincere acknowledgement of my joy at seeing someone I care about.
The friend I was going to visit was one I hadn’t seen in more than a year. She’s helped me through a very rough patch and is, truly, a dear friend. But despite my desire to be obviously joyful when we first met, things didn’t quite work out that way. She was taking the dog out when I got there. You can’t interfere with a dog’s business. And then her husband appeared from the backyard, and we got lost in conversation quickly. So much for the delighted hello–happy dance or not.
It was wonderful to see her again and great that we had the chance to get together. But why didn’t I greet her with open arms and obvious joy? Was I on autopilot? Was I too timid? Or was the whole idea really out in left field?
Maybe it was none of those things. I wanted to make sure my friend knew I appreciated the chance to spend time with her. That happened. We talked about many things and enjoyed catching up with each other’s lives. Did we both miss out by me not doing that little happy dance? Probably not. But I still wish my exuberance had been a little more obvious.
Ironically, since we are both grandmas, I ended up telling her about Cora’s full throttle hello. And she asked why she hadn’t gotten that. I didn’t (and don’t) have a good answer. It would have been fun for me. But it’s Cora’s way to say hello. I’m not sure I can make it mine.
Maybe it’s not Cora’s hello that I need to master here. What I want to do better at is acknowledging the presence of a special person when we first reconnect. That can be my kids. Or grandkids. Or siblings. It could be friends, neighbors, or long lost cousins.
More often though, it’s my significant other. And sometimes, when we return to each other’s company, even the basic word “Hello” gets lost in hauling in groceries or making sure the garage door closed properly.
Life would be sweeter if I remembered a happy “Hello!” though. If I want to be happy, I need to acknowledge the things that make me happy–like returning to the presence of someone I love. Then again, maybe I need to come up with my own dance.