On being warm

people and relationships, society

[ I wrote the following note in December of 1998 while living in Europe and immediately after traveling through Belgium and Ireland. The weather was cold, but interactions with the locals made my heart warm. — Adam ]

I just came back from a relatively short vacation in Belgium and Ireland. Of course, I have a lot to say about my visits in these fine countries, but for now I’m just going to share one noteworthy tidbit.

As I was hauling my 35 pound suitcase down a street in a suburb of Dublin, a kindly older woman smiled at me and said something. Though I had already become accustomed to and appreciative of the typical Irish friendliness I had been encountering during my stay… the suddenness of her comment and her deep Irish accent caused me to miss what she said.

She stopped walking, smiled again, and repeated: “I hope you’ll be warm where you’re going!”

Indeed, it was a bit nippy in Ireland at the moment, and so I suppose it was a rather unsurprising, though admittedly a bit random comment. But for several reasons, it stuck with me.

The Irish had been good to me during my stay. Although I didn’t really know any Irish people before visiting, I greatly appreciated the cheerfulness and warmth of the natives, who patiently gave me directions, offered recommendations, and gave me extra-big helpings of good food 🙂

In light of this pleasant environment, I took the woman’s comment in another context. While it’s not always possible to be physically warm in these harsh winter months (at least here in freezing Europe!), there’s definitely something to be said for keeping and spreading warmth in a broader sense.

During the holidays, we typically exchange gifts, fill ourselves with good food, and sometimes even sing songs in this time of year in which even the most tone-deaf amongst us are free from ostracization and pained glances. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with these traditions 🙂

But I’d like to put in a good word for BEING WARM… for figuratively lighting a warm fireplace for strangers with our smiles, our kind compliments, our seemingly tiny but still important thoughtful acts, and so on. This holiday season… instead of just being the life of the party, be the warmth.

And as the wise Irish woman wished for me, I too wish for you: I hope you’ll be warm where you’re going… for the rest of this year, and beyond.

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