During my visit to North Carolina for my granddaughter’s third birthday I had the chance to sit in
the upstairs gallery of the gymnastic studio and watch this petite whirlwind and her classmates run,
climb, tumble and spin their way to pure enjoyment.
At several points during the class, when the instructor had assisted my granddaughter in some way, I heard her adorable, three-year-old voice say, “Thank you.” Her expressions were priceless, and memorable, especially in a culture that has all but forgotten the value and meaning of gratitude.
I’m proud to say her cousins have learned the same graciousness. My sons and their wives are passing on something that was taught to them, and it is something that was certainly handed on to me by my parents, especially my mom.
I was raised during the time of Emily Post manners, which meant white gloves when you went shopping, tasteful clothes for Mass and cultivating the now lost art of the thank you note. What I learned is that manners, and expressions of gratitude, are more than just trite social mores. They are opportunities to express respect and appreciation of others, to build relationships, and to be reminded that we are not the center of anyone’s universe except our own.
Imagine my delight when I discovered that Emily Post’s great-great-grandson, Daniel Post Senning, is carrying on Emily’s legacy. He writes, in The Costco Connection, “Good manners are about more than fulfilling bare-minimum social obligations. They are an opportunity for us to connect to the people in our lives in a meaningful way. In an increasingly informal digital world, continuing to pull out pen and paper is a way to distinguish yourself. The handwritten thank-you note speaks volumes simply as a medium and sends the message that you care enough to invest yourself personally in acknowledging another.”
In my work as a writer and columnist, one of my greatest pleasures has been the notes I’ve received from readers, some of whom have stayed in contact and who I consider as friends. I have kept all the notes I’ve received during the past 20 years and I take them out every once in awhile and re-read them. The thank-yous I've received for my writing
give me the boost of encouragement I need sometimes when my spirit is lagging. I am grateful for them and the people who wrote them.
One of my greatest regrets is losing the envelope with the return address of a reader who sent me the very meaningful gift of a dishtowel from the Sunrise Café in Ortley Beach. I tore my office, at home and at work, apart looking for it because I wanted to send a thank-you note. I actually lost sleep over it.
Perhaps, she will read this column and know that I absolutely loved the towel and have it hanging in my kitchen. It is especially meaningful now that the café is gone, a victim of Sandy, and we are forced to sell our home in Ortley Beach.
You just never know how much a handwritten note, or seemingly small gift, will mean to someone.
"Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father ... " Ephesians 5:20
Image from apartmenttherapy.com where there's great article on making thank-you notes a fun activity for kids.