By Shelley Anne Friend

Lagniappe (pronounced LAHNYAP) means giving a little something extra. In business, it is sometimes “a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase.” For example, when you order a dozen baked goods and the baker gives you 13 and it’s called “a baker’s dozen.” It is a bonus or little treat.

I first learned this term when we were with our friends and relatives in Louisiana. We found everyone we met in Louisiana to be very generous and family-centered.  They had “joie de vivre” (joy of life.) And, even if we were not really a part of your biological family, we were treated as if we were the most important people they ever met.  So, we were on the receiving end of many a lagniappe. “Take home the extra crawfish,” or “let me help you carry that into the house for you.” Their homes were always open to us, and anyone we wanted to include.

Now I understand, because lagniappe is given as a gift with no expectations of anything in return, I see it working well in improving our connection with people on a broader level.  It is a term for meaning give just to give.  So the giver’s gift is the act, itself, of giving.

When we don’t have expectations, we are rarely disappointed.  And, doing “a little something extra” even if the receiver doesn’t know who gave it to them, makes the life of the giver richer. It’s almost like “paying it forward,” with a clear understanding that we don’t expect anything in return.

I say let’s turn the noun lagniappe into a verb.  Let’s Lagniappe and Fly Forward Together.

Shelley Anne Friend is one of the creators of Iron Butterflies Project.  She teaches part time in the Communication Studies Department at Austin Communication, serves on three boards and loves spending time with her husband, two daughters and sons-in-love, and grandson, Thomas.  And, she is anxiously awaiting to meet her first granddaughter, Emilia, whose expected day of arrival is in August.

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