The Art of the Thank You

beth - zionsville, Indiana
Entered on October 11, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family, gratitude

I believe in writing thank you notes. When I was a child, my mother used to sit me down and make me write a thank you letter for every gift I received. Birthdays and holidays became a chore. After all, from my then immature perspective, the anniversary of my birth was about getting presents. The looming prospect of sitting down, painstakingly drafting note after note somehow spoiled the excitement. My mother was unyielding however, and under her watchful eye, every gift was acknowledged with a letter of gratitude.

Like a trained dog, I continued into adulthood with my mother’s teaching and obediently recognized every gift received and gesture of kindness with a note. The letters I wrote were not thoughtful but more perfunctory in nature. As I got older, however, I came to appreciate the receipt from others of cards thanking me for my gift giving gestures. I found these notes made me feel appreciated and fulfilled.

My dutiful gestures however, blossomed into my stated belief, thanks to my grandmother. Grandma is a person to whom giving presents is rewarding. A few years ago, I sent her flowers for mother’s day. Flowers! Not original, nor particularly thoughtful. My grandmother however, was touched that I would think of her on mother’s day and show my love for her by sending flowers. As an acknowledgment, she sent me a thank you that arrived on my door step in a box measuring about 1 by 2 feet. I should tell you that my grandmother is an artist. Not one of world fame, but her work has been showcased on my family’s walls for as long as I can remember. I opened the box and the note said, “Honey, I want you to know that the bouquet of flowers you sent me was so beautiful, that I had to share it with you.” In the package was a water color painting of the flowers as seen through my grandmother’s eyes. I have never felt so rewarded and satisfied by giving anyone a present then I did at that moment. Suddenly, I now understood. I realized that it really is the thought of the givee and their acknowledgment that completes the gift. The material item is of no consequence. On that day, my grandmother taught me that the gift is really born by the receiver and their worthiness to be a giver.