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A little of this, A little of that

By Kathy Little

Fri, Dec 27th, 2013
Posted in All Columnists

“Sticks and stones may break my bones; but words will never hurt me.” That old adage is only partially true. Sticks and stones might very well break your bones, but words really can emotionally wound you!

Words are magical! Now I don’t mean so-called magic words like “abra cadabra.” Rather, readers and writers like you and I recognize the power of words. They can hurt or heal; they can influence or inspire. They can make us laugh and cry as they evoke memories. Think Hallmark cards. Why do you think advertising is such a big business?

Anti-bullying campaigns are big in school these days. Facebook bullying causes emotional upheaval, at best. We have laws against libel. Gossip and slander can ruin reputations. It is important to think before we speak or write. My foot is often stuck in my mouth, and then I need to make amends. The written word can go viral in seconds and be remembered for years!

Recently, my sister, Barb, and I visited an older couple. He is 96 and she is 94. Remember when people talked face-to-face, rather than by electronic devices? Facial expression and vocal intonation mattered. Sideway smiley faces were not needed. You could talk free for hours. Sometimes you were treated to delicious free food.

This couple still lives in their own home. He does the cooking. She calls his cooking “heating stuff in the microwave.” She keeps the books and does the correspondence with pen and paper. They are somewhat embarrassed about hiring help to clean the house and do the outside chores.

Barb and I complimented them on their elaborate Christmas decorations and beautiful antique china and crystal. They replied, “It’s just stuff!”

After a little lunch (this is Minnesota after all) of pie and ice cream and coffee, we talked about Christmas gifts. They give the kids and grandkids and great-grandkids money because young people just want some kind of gadget these days. How true!

Before we left, the man left the room and returned with a poem on white typing paper pasted to a piece of faded red construction paper. It had been written by his granddaughter, Danielle, about 20 years ago. It was titled “My Hero” and dedicated to the man who had taught her “the two step” and spent so much time with her as a child. She talked about growing up and being so busy with school and sports and girl friends and even a boyfriend that their time together was limited. However, she reminded him that his opinions still guided her choices, and that she still loved him very much! Yes, words matter.

As I read the poem aloud, we all cried over the words. The words that after 20 years were not “just stuff.”

Spoiler alert! This recipe contains ingredients that are all free, have no “sell by date” and contain no calories. Use these statements whenever appropriate with kindness and sincerity and in any temperature.

Recipe for a happier New Year

Face the person and say aloud:

I’m sorry.

It’s my fault.

I made a mistake.

I hope you will forgive me.

I forgive you.

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