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A Forgotten Act of Kindness: The Thank-You Card
Growing up, my mother had taught me to always write thank you cards whenever I received a present from someone. As with many things, this was a habit that I managed to fall out of as I reached adulthood. Then, two years ago I lost someone that I loved very deeply and it left me with a lot of doubt and in a very dark place. It was truly hard to find anything to be grateful for in my life. On a trip to the library I happened to stumble on a book by John Kralik called 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life. In short it was about a man that learned to find all of the little things in life to be grateful for and the happiness he received from it. I was so inspired that I vowed to try and find at least one thing to thank someone for each day of the year and not just say thank you, but actually send them a thank you card.
With the constant use of computers and cell phones, many people have forgotten to appreciate the joys of the written word. It is true that people send personal emails and text messages to one another all the time, but it is becoming less and less prevalent for someone to mail cards and to actually take the time to handwrite something personal in them. I have the privilege of having a mother who still writes out letters to her friends and family just to keep in touch and check in with them. I might be having a horrible day, but seeing one of her handwritten cards and letters always brings a smile to my face.
Thank you cards are special because of the thought behind them. Whenever you receive one, it means that someone thought about you so much that they took the time to sit down and put it into words how thankful they are that they have you in their life. It shows you that no matter how you may be feeling about yourself, someone out there is happy that you are here. I like to keep all of the thank you cards that I receive from people in a box. On days where I feel discouraged or need a pick me up, looking through all the cards and pleasant thoughts from others puts me right back on top of the world.
It is that reason that I have made it a point to personally handwrite thank you cards to anyone that I am grateful to. Many times I am not even writing to thank someone for a gift. When you truly sit down and examine the people in your life, from family to complete strangers, you may find yourself overjoyed at how much you actually have to be thankful for. This month I have written over forty thank you cards to family, friends, and even two people that I have not physically met. Most of them were simply to acknowledge a kind gesture someone made or helpful words they shared.
I understand that it is not always possible to send a thank you note to everyone that does something that you appreciate. However; when you are out somewhere and someone opens a door for you, or you receive really good service at your favorite coffee shop, or even if you just happen to receive a friendly smile from a stranger on the street, remember to say thank you. Keep those people in mind as you reflect at the end of your day and know that there are plenty more out there like them. If you do have the pleasure of personally knowing some of them, pass on your gratitude with a thank you note. Nothing creates more gratitude than receiving some of it yourself.