Greetings (in any season)

Tonight, I waited inside the airport for a friend coming back from Christmas vacation, in the chairs at the bottom of the stairs where returning travelers come down to baggage claim. I was about 20 minutes early, so I had 20 minutes of smile-making joy as I watched a whole mess of people greet their loved ones. Somebody being there, to welcome somebody home.

The young father carried his toddler son down the stairs, made beaming eye contact with the waiting mommy, who instantaneously dropped to a squat, opened her arms and waited for her baby – maybe his first time away, on an airplane, in this whole welcoming home behavior – who proudly, excitedly, screamingly, tumble-ran into her arms with the happiest smile I may have ever seen. She was so glad to see him, and she let him know it with her smile, her arms, her being there.

As I watched the stairs for my friend, I saw a pretty brunette teenager coming down the stairs – maybe high school, maybe college. She looked around and then made an adorable smile and cute shoulder shrug at someone behind me. Another teenager with a long wavy ponytail ran toward the stairs, squealed and the two friends embraced and squealed, and bobbed together side-to-side-to-side long enough for each to know the other missed her and was glad to see her home again.

Even a fully-grown adult woman was greeted by her older parents with the same smiles, the same hugs, the same generosity of excitement and joy. Fact is, I got so much of my own joy out watching people greet one another with such love, excitement, honesty and unadulterated freedom, that I can only imagine how much better it was for them. That’s how I want the people I’m waiting for to feel, whether they’re coming back from a trip, visiting after a long time away, coming for Sunday dinner, or even just coming home from work every day.

It’s so easy to take for granted the people we love, their presence in our lives, assuming they’ll always be around, when nothing could be farther from the truth. And from what I observed tonight, the gift of making someone feel special, wanted, welcome, with as little as a greeting – and maybe that greeting is an in-airport welcome, or an hours-long nervous wait on a hot pier for a submarine hatch to open, or just opening the front door before they get to it – is a gift with enough for everyone.


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