As a child, my mother wouldn't let me cash the check, play with the toy or wear the new outfit until I wrote my thank you note and it was in the mail. At the time, it seemed silly and outdated to write a thank you note when I could just call or text. But my mom, being infinitely more wise in gratefulness than I ever could be, was relentless about putting my thanks in writing.
Every teacher (including the ones I did not care for) received a thank you note. Every Aunt and friend had a letter in the mail after my birthday. And, to be honest, I was often selfish about my time. I did not want to do it. Finally, when I was in tenth grade, I found out the true power of saying thank you. I was truly grateful to my tenth grade English teacher. It was not the "you got me a gift so it is right of me to show my gratitude" type of note that I so often wrote, it was the honest truth. This woman changed my life. She opened my eyes into other worlds and to my own self worth. That was quite the undertaking for this woman. So, my gratitude poured onto the page.
After class one day, she asked me to stay for a moment. She hugged me and tearfully thanked me for the thank you note. It seems so ridiculous at first. I thanked HER. Why should she thank ME? And, as an adult, I now know. Heartfelt gratitude makes the recipient feel their worth in so many more powerful ways. I have felt it; found myself grateful for being thanked.
Since tenth grade, I have written countless thank you notes, even to professors in college; even randomly to friends for whom I am so grateful. And, thanks to all the practice that my sweet mom forced upon me, I am pretty good at it. But, it is when I truly embrace my feelings of gratitude that I can cause a few soggy eyes or warmed hearts in the reader.
Nowadays, my thank you notes often come sealed in a flourished envelope. I want the envelope to reflect the feelings as much as the words inside it. And, I admit that I find writing thank-yous more enjoyable because of calligraphy. But, it doesn't have to be so flourished and formal.
The other day, I sent a quick Facebook message to a friend. Her blog has been greatly inspiring to me lately, even making me cry with the relief of knowing that somebody feels the same pressures that I do. I debated sending it for a few minutes. My gratitude seemed like so small a thing. But, at last, I sent it. Just four sentences long. And, she sent me a message back.. actually, she sent three. One of which included the words "I really needed that today". And I heard my mother say "See!?" in her very particular way of saying that she is right. In that moment I was overcome with that silly emotion of being thankful that she was thankful that I was thankful. That is the power of saying thank you.
Whether magnificently lettered, or quickly typed, give thanks freely to all who you think deserve it.