I make pies. At Thanksgiving time, I make lots of them.
This year I will make somewhere in the vicinity of 12-14 pies. While my kids will force me to keep several of them for eating (ok. ok! I am complicit in that), I mostly make them to give away. It is my favorite gesture of gratitude.
When I was a teen, my dad would always make a pie to bring to Thanksgiving as a joke. He was, and still is, a terrible cook. Unable to follow a recipe or master most kitchen skills, his pies would typically consist of a store bought crust slapped into an aluminum pie tin, filled with canned blueberries. The resultant fruit and gluten swamp was a good topic of conversation, but really nothing more.
Many years later, I picked up the tradition. I had, however, also picked up some decent cooking abilities along the way. So my pies came out more than edible. As I've honed my craft over the years, I've kept trying new flavors. Chocolate cream, blackberry, peanut butter ganache, raspberry crumble. I'll try making just about anything and usually they come out pretty good. As I picked up the ability to churn out pies, I quickly realized that my joy outstripped my family's ability to eat them all.
So several years ago I started giving away a couple of pies to friends who had been especially helpful to me in some way over the previous year. And, wouldn't you know, the meaning of those pies grew disproportionately for me. I got so much out of that simple act of giving and was routinely blown away by how happy my friends were to receive these small gifts.
I suppose this is how traditions are born. (My son, now 13, spent quite a bit of time with me today making pies, including some solo work that was damn impressive.)
Though this is largely a personal story, I am putting it up here because the underlying principle is of gratitude. Simple acts that show others how much we appreciate them can go such a long way to building and reinforcing connection. My pies could be terrible, like my dad's were. But the fact that I was willing to slow down my busy life to make something for someone else is meaningful. We all appreciate that.
How can you slow down and connect with someone you care about today? Can you do that with a colleague? A friend? A family member? A stranger, even?
Give it a try. See who ends up feeling great.