Just as disturbing as the lack of thanks around us is the lack of meaning to ”Thank You.” So much of life is governed by social norms and customs that it becomes an automatic response. If you sneeze, someone always responds with “God bless you.” “How are you?” is usually met with “Fine, thank you.” How many times in a day do our words or actions trigger an automatic “Thank you?”
Automatic or otherwise, I’m grateful for the civility in daily life and some days “Thank you for shopping at Walmart” is the only polite word we may encounter. Still, we plug along being polite and hoping others will follow the please-thank you rules of interaction. I got to thinking today about when the gratuitous thanks is not enough.
Sunday morning at church, after hastily taking my seat, my immediate prayer is usually “Thank you for getting me out of bed in this frigid, snowy weather to come here today.” It changes with the weather in Western New York, of course, but a sleepless night and biting cold had me wanting to stay bed today. I was grateful for the nudge that got me to mass, because it always makes me feel better, and my thank you was sincere…but was it enough?
Later today, during my third phone call to a friend, I was reminded of the degrees of thankfulness. I was making some flyers to help promote her business and had to keep tracking her down for details because she is a whirlwind who never stops. Of course, the drama queen in me was feeling guilty for ringing her cell phone multiple times on a Sunday but we needed an early start. Rather than be annoyed at my nagging to get these things out there, she said later, “Do you know how much I appreciate you when you look out for me and make sure things get done?!” Jackpot!
Thank you is wonderful but “I appreciate you” carries a special weight, evoking that old warm and fuzzy feeling in the best of us. In retrospect, I think what really drove it home was her asking “Do you know…?” It meant that she was really conscious of trying to convey her appreciation, to make sure I knew the act wasn’t taken lightly. So, as the lightbulb went on overhead, I realized that my own habit of extending thanks with heartfelt comments like “you’re such a special friend” or “no one makes this quite like you” are my own attempts to extend my gratitude beyond a perfunctory thank you. I want others to know I am sincerely grateful for the things they bestow on me. Maybe it’s time to ramp up the thanks even more.
Now that I have decided to enter the new year with a greater conciousness of my blessings, I need to ammend the simple act of counting the good things in my life. I need to be more aware of the origins of my blessings, and to express the gratitude I feel! Why not share those warm and fuzzy feelings with the people who bless my life with kindnesses large and small? In fact, why wait for them to do the next good thing? I think I’m going to try to spontaneously thank the lights in my life for just sharing life’s road with me. Yep, I need to roll out the gratitude train! Now, how many ways can I think of to say thank you, without just saying “Thank You”? Creative suggestions welcome.
Oh, and it makes me happy that you took the time to read my humble blog!