Helplessly and unabashedly bound to my Louisiana heritage, I had to use a term that both beckons my roots and also calls into view my present. The term “lagniappe” draws from the Gulf Coast region and refers to a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase or more broadly, “something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure,” as Merriam-Webster notes.
Here’s a little bit more from good ol’ Wikipedia:
The word entered English from Louisiana French, in turn derived from the American Spanish phrase la ñapa (‘something that is added’ ). The term has been traced back to the Quechua word yapay (‘to increase; to add’). In Andean markets it is still customary to ask for a yapa when making a purchase. The seller usually responds by throwing in a little extra. Although this is an old custom, it is still widely practiced today in Louisiana. This custom is also widely practiced in southeast Asia. Street vendors, especially vegetable vendors, are expected to throw in a few green chillies or a small bunch of cilantro with a purchase. In Louisiana, the custom has become a traditional gracious gesture, with the bonus typically unexpected – a ‘little something extra’ not expected or demanded.
This life is a gift of grace. And so, I hope to muse about and reflect on the little bit of lagniappe — the grace — that comes with each day. Will you join me?