Once I was visiting Joel, an old friend who had two young sons. After dinner and homework were done, he said they deserved a treat and asked what they wanted. He expected them to say ice cream or something similar.
Instead, they asked for a fire in the fireplace that evening. Joel was taken aback. He listed all the reasons that the treat they asked for was not a good idea – the fireplace would get dirty, they would only have it for a short time before bedtime, and so on. But the kids were adamant. Despite all their father’s protests, what they really wanted as a treat was a glowing, flickering fireplace. Joel gave in. They had their fire and then their usual story time once they were in bed.
Then there’s Teddy Hobbs, the British four-year-old with an IQ of 139 who became the youngest MENSA member ever. He can read at a Harry Potter level, though his parents try to steer him to books more at his emotional age level. “Teddy has done all of this himself,” his mother says. “When we go out and give him an option of a treat, he wants a book rather than chocolate.”
I’m on the kids’ side. While I love a good apple crisp, baking one with my husband is the real treat. When I get paid for finishing my writing, I treat myself to a new pair of jeans, lunch out, or a few books. (I sometimes do like a traditional treat for dessert when I eat out.) A treat for my husband is a hike in the woods or a day off to garden. A major treat for both of us is the couple’s massage I booked for later this month.
Perhaps the best kind of treat is giving a treat to someone else. From time to time, Dan and I spring for a box of donuts or cookies for his breakroom at work. Once I invited a mostly housebound friend to join us at a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch. We could tell it was an absolute treat for her to eat out and renew our friendship – even more so when we added on a bargain shopping spree after lunch. Another time, one of Dan’s friends in another state surprised us with a pizza he ordered from one of our local restaurants and had delivered.
I think we need to expand our definition of treats beyond the standard cake or candy. Anything that you love or find joy in but don’t often get can be a treat. Maybe you haven’t had coffee with a friend in far too long. That can be a treat – for both of you. (Even more of a treat if it’s Irish coffee.) Perhaps you haven’t found time to work on a hobby like painting or needlework for a while. Renew yourself by allowing yourself a treat of relaxation and creativity.
Treats for others are often the kind that a person would really like but never buy for themselves. Again, it doesn’t have to be a major, expensive purchase. My husband brings me little treats all the time – it helps that he works at Meijer. Right now I have five plushies on my desk that he brought me at various times (two bunnies, an elephant, a giraffe, and a fox). He also brings me plants for my desk in the spring and summer. They give me a lift whenever I look at them. I find songs online that he remembers only a few words of and give him a lift by playing the videos for him.
So no matter what you’ve accomplished – or just when you’re feeling blue – treat yourself or someone else. Either way, it really makes you feel better. Even if you feel you don’t deserve a treat, take it from me – you do!
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