Some years ago, soon after one of their children was born, we took a meal over to our neighbors. Paul calls it the Baby Mess. (Because it’s such a mess of stuff, not because it’s disgusting. We hope.) The traditional Baby Mess includes a big roast, potatoes, a hot vegetable, a salad, some rolls, and a pie. We’re aiming for there to be leftovers. Usually, we drop it off, act ridiculous about the new baby, and take off. This time, they asked us to stay. Goodness no, I said, but they said please. Please, we haven’t seen you in a while. The kids can play. They seemed to mean it, so we stayed. As it turned out, Paul had overdone it with the hot peppers in the roast, so I didn’t make much of a dent in that anyway. (I’m a wuss.) There was still a lot of food when we were done eating, and most of a pecan pie.
We were getting up to leave when Heather tried to pack up the leftovers for us. We brought the meal for you, I said. It’s already a little ridiculous that we ate some of it. But she tried again. Mike came over.
“Honey,” he said, “you’re not doing this right. When someone gives you a pie, you don’t give it back. You say thank you.”
I don’t even know if the neighbors remember this, but it’s become one of Paul’s favorite stories. If I am inclined to turn down a gift, or an offer, he stops and says, “Honey? What do you do when someone gives you a pie?”
I don’t know if it’s Anabaptist culture or Swiss heritage or modern American individualism or just my own super-special personality, but I am inclined to meet most offers of help with the reflexive response that I AM FINE. Why would you think I need help? Do you think I’m a mess? Do I look like a mess? Am I not handling everything? Can you not see that I AM FINE?
All of which is maybe an indication that I’m maybe not as FINE as I think I am, but that’s probably a navel-gazing session for another day.
I like doing things for other people when I can. And when I want to do something for someone, it’s not because I think they’re a hot mess or too dumb to handle their own stuff. It’s because I want to make life a little easier, in a small way. Here’s a little nice thing. Maybe it will fortify you to go face whatever big nasty thing is on your agenda this week.
Reflexive pride is a dumb way to respond to generosity.
So when someone messaged me recently and said that she would really like to send me a canvas of one my tree pictures for my room, I said, “Thank you!”
No, not really. I said something like, “You don’t have to do that,” at which response I imagine she rolled her eyes because obviously. She kindly omitted the eye-roll emoji from her response and instead said that she’d really like to, if I would like such a thing.
I would adore such a thing. I’ve been wanting a black and white print of the tree, and I’ve been wanting to hang it in this room. And yet, it took me awhile to respond. Paul was at work, so I finally had to ask the question myself.
What do you do when someone gives you a pie?
I went to the keyboard and sat down and did it.
Thank you. This is so generous, and I would love it, and I cannot wait until it is hanging on the wall.
There it is. I do love it. Like crazy.
Julie, thank you.
It was my first nail in the fresh paint, and I love that it was this.