One of my favorite things about my grandma is that every time I call her or she calls me, the tone of her voice makes it seem like talking to me in that instant just made her entire day. EVERY TIME, even if I just saw her. Even if its been a really bad day for her, even if.. you get the point. And its been that way my entire life, ever since I can remember. In middle school we filled out a survey of our favorite things, and I put down my grandma's voice on the phone as my favorite sound.
I remember realizing in high school that every time I ran into my friend Karlee, I felt happy. From across the hall, she would yell out 'HALEY!', her face would light up, she would give me a big hug, and we would talk. EVERY TIME, she acted like seeing me (and anyone in our group of friends) was the best thing ever.
I'm in Paraguay now.
I don't know if it is a cultural thing, or if the group of people I am with are just extraordinary in making everyone around them feel wonderful, but I've noticed I feel really personally appreciated a lot here. And in some part, I think it is because they say my name, a lot (granted, it sounds little closer to helly than haley, but the point is that they say my name). When we are talking, they frame the sentences something like "And then you know what helly? then we are going to go outside!" Or "How did you sleep Helly?" or "Helly!" as they walk up to me.
One of the best things that we do in our camp programs is our greeting. We get dressed up. We make huge signs with EVERY LAST CAMPER'S name on them (checked and rechecked to make sure we get everyone!) We have huge smiles, we yell, we cheer, we wave and jump and sing from the minute we can see the bus of kids round the corner in the distance. The staff have been trained to use the names of their campers as much as possible. We make sure that no one can even question that their arrival is the coolest, most exciting thing ever, that we've been waiting for them, and that we love them already.
And without surprise, it is regularly referred to as one of the favorite parts of camp. We do the same in Training, and it is listed by many of the adults as their favorite part as well.
On See You Later:
My parents always come all of the way in when they take me to the airport. There is no dropping off. They park the car, help me with my bags, walk me all the way to the point where there are the big "No entry without bording pass" signs by the security line. And then they wait while I walk through the security line. The whoooolle way. Every time I round the corner, we wave. I put my bags on the security belt, we wave. I walk through the metal detector, we wave. And then I walk through so I can barely still see them, and we wave again.
And with our kids, we do the same... when it is time to leave, we walk with them to put their bags on the bus. We hug and keep our happy game face on (while on the inside we are crying usually much harder than they are). We clap and sing the songs we've been singing all week. We stand outside the bus as it starts and give high fives through the windows. We wave our hands, and walk beside the bus as it starts moving, then run along side it as it moves faster, and we chase it, waving, until it pulls out of the gate. And we keep waving, and waving and waving, long after we can no longer see the faces of the kids, all the way until it turns on to another road and we can't even see a glimpse of any part of the bus anymore.
I've never been on the bus with the kids, but the doctors tell us that they are glued to the back of the window waving back at us the whole way.
Saying hello and goodbye aren't that hard, but they can be love in action, you know?