The other week, an email arrived in my inbox with the subject line: “A note of thanks.” It was from a woman who took my essay class last year. Like many of my students, she was already a good writer when we met, but lacked the confidence to call herself a writer and send her work out into the world to be published. This student wanted to let me know that she’d finally decided to commit herself to a writing and editing career. She’d sent out an essay and not only had it published, but gotten herself an editor gig to boot. “Thanks a million,” she wrote.
The email came at the exact right time. A spontaneous show of gratitude that made my whole day. I thought about how gracious it was of this woman to give me some of the credit for her accomplishments. Not only that, but she’d taken time out of her busy life to thank me for encouraging her.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t get a whole lot of gratitude on a daily basis. “Thanks, Mom,” I say to myself out loud after I’ve poured a glass of milk for a kid who grabs it and goes on his merry way. “Nice clean sheets on the bed – how thoughtful!” I tell myself after doing the laundry. (My husband DOES thank me often for cooking dinner, but so many household tasks go unnoticed. When’s the last time you noticed that the toilet paper roll had been changed?)
That email was a reminder to me to make more of an effort to say thank you to the people in my life. I thanked my mailman for delivering the mail in a hailstorm. (I know it’s his job, but still. HAIL.) I thanked the checkout clerk who let me use an expired coupon. I always thank people who hold doors open and hold elevators for me, especially when I’m with my kids. I thanked my husband for cleaning up the kitchen, and restrained myself from adding, “Even though you loaded the dishwasher wrong.” (I could get SO much better at showing that guy some gratitude…)
Once you start thanking people, it’s hard to stop. But just writing thank-you notes and saying a rhetorical “thanks” to those who expect it is not enough. I think it’s the private, unsolicited thanks that matter most. I guess I just blew it by announcing all my efforts here, didn’t I? Oh, well. Thanks for understanding.
And thank you, readers, for your comments and for coming back here week after week to read what I’m writing. I know I don’t say it enough, to you all and to the other people in my life who deserve it, but thanks a million.
P.S. I may talk smack about them, but my kids are actually pretty well-mannered little dudes, and affectionate. This morning out of the blue Riley said to me, “I love you, Mommy. You’re the best Mommy.” It was all the more meaningful because I wasn’t doling out dessert at the time.