Growing up I HAD to write a thank you card for any small or large gesture, gift, or act of kindness. I couldn’t stand it. I’d complain to my mother, “Let them not give it to me, I feel the pressure.” It was my childhood version of “eating your spinach” (which by the way I love and have every morning in my smoothie).
My Mom had a stack of real cheezie corny ones, and she’d sequester me to my room. I was always cranky when I started, but my love affair with writing and making people feel appreciated kicked in shortly.
I would take a moment to really think about what I appreciated about the person’s offering. My Mom and Dad would be excited to hear what I wrote, and often would literally clap in a bizarre cartoon-like but truly heartfelt ways. Yup, we had a lot of animated moments growing up.
We’d go to the mailbox and my Mom would say, “Oh you’re just going to make her/his day!” She was always right. Within days (good ol’ days when USPS wasn’t be hi-jacked by outside sources, but I digress) they’d get the call, “How old is your daughter? Where’d she learn to write?” My Mom would beam. They’d say how much they appreciated the note and it “always” seemed to come at a time when they were particularly down and needed a real pick me up. Funny how timing works some times.
My Mom had the most gorgeous handwriting in the world, it looked more like caligraphy then cursive. She always wrote thank you cards, almost to the end, in fact when she no longer remembered to write cards, that was a sign of her failing and brought her tremendous sadness, recognition of her decline. Even at her independent living/assisted living facility, she would scribe on the back of her dinner voucher several paragraphs of how the staff “made the impossible possible.” Out of the corner of my eyes, I’d see the young kids huddling in the corner trying to decipher her flowery prose. They were fascinated by how she would express the mundane task of delivering her dinner to the table in such an over-the-top way. They beamed when she entered the dining room and we always got the best seat in the house and double portions of everything. She knew what she was doing!
I’ve always written thank you cards, but like all of us, I got busy and would let it slide. I’d always thank someone via text, email, or a call, but it’s just not the same.
One of the “crappy but creative silver linings of COVID” was I re-instated my thank you card habit. I found really creative interesting packs of them at the local dollar store, had my address labels ready and armed for action, and my post-it note as a reminder. Whenever anyone did something lovely for me be it send a gift, a kind gesture, even a great experience with one of my doctors, I’d make a note.
While acknowledgment in any way (email, phone call, text) is important there’s something special about both sending and receiving a note expressing your thanks. And as I write I get to reconnect with the initial gift and what it meant to me plus reconnecting with thanking the person.
Today I met with a new doctor that was beyond impeccable and personable. He too will get a card! What I learn over and over is that sometimes “it takes so little to provide so much” to another person, why not just do it.
If nothing else COVID taught us about the power of community, the importance of connection, and the staggering loneliness that lingers in our hearts when we remain disconnected and isolated.
A simple card of thanks, or “hi” or “congratulations” makes all the difference in the world. And not just for the person receiving it, but for the sender as well.
How will you take out 5 minutes today to let someone know you’re thinking of them, or thanking them for a kind gesture?
Now more than ever with all the strife in the world and the divisiveness of our country, let our heart and compassion and outreach be the salve that bridges the hurt into healing and the isolation into connection.
Thanks for tuning in and not tuning out.