Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Thank you!

"We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing."(2 Thess. 1:3)

Saying thank you is another of those lessons mom stressed over and over again as we were growing up. Christmas day wasn't complete without a few minutes at the dining room table writing thank you notes for the gifts we had received from people outside the family. Birthdays, Easter, whenever a gift came into the home, someone was responsible to send a thank you note.

Grandma Greenwood saved several of them over the years and returned them to us - what fun to read the wild ramblings of a 6 year old who was required to write something ... anything down on paper in order to say thank you. Because you couldn't just say thank you for the gift, you had to fill the page.

This is such a lost art. I don't do it nearly often enough, but I still hear my mother telling me to sit down and write the note. A phone call wasn't good enough and I'm fairly certain she wouldn't find a quick email to be proper either. It's not just about the point of saying thank you, but an effort to let the gift giver know how special their gift was to you. And by doing so, how important that person is to you as well.

It's not easy to say a heartfelt thank you anymore. Carol and I had an employee at Insty-Prints that honestly didn't know how to say those words. I noticed it one Christmas when she talked about how great the gifts were, but never said the words 'thank you.' So, I began to pay attention and they simply never came out of her mouth! How in the world do you grow up without learning to say that?

For mom, teaching us to say (and write) thank you was as important as all of the other etiquette that she insisted we learn. Don't talk with your mouth full, don't stare with your mouth open (don't stare at all, but if you must - shut your mouth), put your napkin in your lap, don't shovel your food into your mouth, cut your food into small pieces, on and on and on ... she worked these tidbits of proper manners into our minds until we got it.

Ok, because I love to tell stories on myself ... and it's kind of related ...

I knew I had a short period of acceptable time after my marriage to get the thank you cards written, so I hustled. My stepmother had hosted this very strange wedding reception / party / shower for me. I wasn't invited (or even told it was happening). But, she had all of the ladies come to her house and they were asked to bring presents for me. Now, you have to know, that Dad was the pastor and he had moved to this church long after I was out of the home. I barely knew most of them and you gotta know they felt obligated to show up with a gift for me since I was their pastor's daughter. Talk about an uncomfortable situation for me when I discovered what had happened!

Anyway, she then decided I needed to open all these gifts on the day I got married ... yes, we had a million things to do, but I settled in with a pad of paper and a pile of gifts. I opened them quickly and wrote everything down.

There was one gift that I didn't fully open. After I unwrapped the box ... a very nice Dustbuster ... I set it aside and moved on. I remember thinking that it was a cool gift and would work perfectly in Max's darkroom.

Came home, began writing thank you notes, worked through the list, mailed them ... moved on with my life.

Later that summer - after all of the hoopla had died down, Max and I were reorganizing things in the basement for his darkroom. I remembered the Dustbuster and ran upstairs to get it. This was going to be perfect!

I opened the (what I thought to be factory-sealed) box and discovered ... a plaque.

I collapsed in laughter on the basement steps. I laughed so hard, I was crying. Max wasn't sure what was happening. I handed him the open box and he still wasn't sure what was happening because nothing made sense. There was no Dustbuster in the box ... just a quaint little plaque.

We still laugh about that and there's a tinge of embarrassment that surrounds the episode because I had to send another note to the family that gave me the gift apologizing for the first card and thanking them for the gift they actually gave me.

But, it didn't deter me ... I still make an effort to say thank you, I send thank you notes often. I make telephone calls, I send emails. But, mom taught me to say thank you ... out loud as often as possible!

No comments: