Praise is so buttery.

This from a person raised by a margarine Mom.

It has taken me years to learn to lavish praise on others. For a long time, I did what I was taught. Which was to be spare and modest in my praise. Nothing a person would normally do was worthy of praise – this is what I gleaned from my upbringing. So showing up, working hard, being a nice person, doing the right thing, those were breathing exercises. One is not praised for breathing.

I remember my father sitting in his big chair after coming home at ten o’clock, Gunsmoke already on the TV, putting the newspaper down in his lap, and taking the report card I handed to him, waiting for him to find the C which he did within seconds although it was surrounded by B’s, never A’s, but B’s which were plenty good in my book, and, of course, he zeroed in on the C like it was a tumor that he should find his jackknife and excise that very moment. “Why did you get this C?”

I have done this now my whole life. Ask people why they got a C. I am drawn to failures and mediocrity, mistakes and shortcomings, magically almost, like a mean-spirited Tinkerbell. I find flaws and analyze them. And people appreciate my analysis, some grow to fear it, and many become tired by it, exhausted and bored by its endlessness. Especially me. I became exhausted and bored by myself.

So I now bring the butter. When I cook, I start with butter. When the pan looks dry, I add more butter, a couple of pats at least. If the sauce looks thin, I add more butter, and when the serving bowl goes to the table it’s blessed with a healthy chunk of butter. I am not spare or modest with butter. I am lavish. With butter and with praise.

Praise makes people happy. Like their flaws are imperceptible and their successes mammoth. It makes them feel powerful and competent, beautiful and glowing. Praise changes the air in the room, puts people behind the wheel of a newly-waxed convertible, coaxes them to sleep on satin sheets.

Praise is so buttery.


Photo by Jodie Morgan on Unsplash

13 Comments on “Golden

  1. Oh yes, I grew up in an era where praise would swell a person’s head. I’m still learning how to give praise. I love your butter analogy!

  2. We obviously had the same father. Excellent essay, sis.

  3. A wonderful, golden, buttery post. Let’s have lots more butter, in the kitchen, and also to oil the squeaky wheels of life.

  4. It certainly is. I hope you realise how much I appreciate your wit, insight and crisp flair with words, Jan. I often wish to lavish praise on your pieces but I worry that you’ll think I’m some stalker!

  5. Never ever being good enough made ravines of sorrow in my soul so I have spent much of my life pouring loving butter everywhere. Receiving a C is nothing to be ashamed of. In college I received an A- and all my father said was why didn’t I get an A+. I love you Jan – you are totally awesome. XXX

  6. I can really relate to this. Sometimes I wonder if it was a thing of the times.

  7. Well, girl, I’d slather you with some and hope all the little surface dents of age, waffley, would capture it, but I know butter’s easier to apply than to absorb.

  8. It is sometimes difficult to find an acceptable phrase when something is awful, so that, without perjuring myself,I will not upset its creator

    • Gosh, is that how it came across? Not a judgement at all. Just that your experiences of giving praise (or not) reminded me of times when I’ve tried to answer supportively when someone asks ‘how do you like my…’, when I don’t. (Especially in situations when I don’t want other people to lose faith in my judgement. Such as book reviews.)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: