on 11 November 2013

Saturday I made cookies.  We had spent the week in Savannah because Chris' great-grandmother passed away, so we had gone down for the funeral.  It was a quick trip and we were all happy to be home.  So when the Boy requested "chocolate chip cookies, Mama?  Please?  PLAIN?"  I said, "SURE!"  And started mixing them up.

As I was whipping that butter into submission, I started to think about the best compliments I've ever received.  My Mom said a couple of weeks ago, that she thinks I've turned out to be a better cookie baker than she is.  And given that my Mom is the Queen of All Baking, I was really touched by that.  It started me thinking about the best compliments I've ever received.

I'm not comfortable with compliments in general.  I'm not sure why.  They make me feel self-conscious and awkward.  I never really know what to say.  I know that I should just say Thank You (like a grown-up) and move on.  But I find myself feeling embarrassed and shy about everything I do.  I think much of the discomfort comes from comparison.  After all, I poke around on Ravelry and see what REAL Knitting Genius looks like (there are techniques that I am still too intimidated to even TRY).  So my simple efforts are in no way brilliant, but they make me happy.  I have studied works of literary genius for half of my life, so I know that the things that I write are in no way, shape, or form, profound or brilliant.  And it's ok.  I've written about genius before and I'm perfectly content being ordinary.  Consequently, my favorite compliments have stemmed, not from something that I've done, but from how I live my life.

The chair of my department in grad school looked me square in the face and said I was the most sensible person he'd ever met.  This, after I had made a suggestion about how to correct the course offerings to cover student interest and graduate student availability to teach.  I came home and told Christopher that it might have been the best compliment I've ever received.  (Of course, looking back on it, I realize that he probably just hasn't met many people who have common sense.  After all, he works in a Liberal Arts department.)

And then my Mom--Queen Baker herself--declared that I might be a better cookie baker than her.  HER.  I was floored, and touched and it just makes me so happy.  I know, it's a small thing, Mom taught me to make cookies.  It was one of those intrinsic parts of my childhood, and still, a really good cookie tastes like a happy childhood to me.

I've been thinking about the compliments that I pay to others.  And I'm sure that other people are, perhaps, more comfortable with general compliments than I am.  But I think I should do better about paying compliments that are unique to the person for whom they are intended.

Which leads me to wonder, what are the best compliments YOU'VE ever received?