I Believe in Appreciation

Beth - Laramie, Wyoming
Entered on March 15, 2008
Age Group: 65+
Themes: family, gratitude

I believe in appreciation. The dictionary defines appreciation as the act of estimating the quality of things and giving them value. The definition seems a bit pretentious. We’re not talking about big time here: not the gift of a vintage Mustang or tickets to London to see the queen. We’re talking about ordinary appreciation. It doesn’t take a lot of thought to say you appreciate it when someone who helps you cross a street, hands you a cup of hot tea, or simply says a cheery “good morning.” It doesn’t take a lot of time to write a thank-you note when a friend remembers your birthday or buys lunch.

I believe in appreciation and expressing it is a good habit. Simple stuff, right?

Saying you appreciate a gift, a contribution, or a deed can make a difference in how you feel and how others feel about you. The frequent and widespread, “Have a good day,” and “No problem,” are words of appreciation even if they make you wince.

Recently, in a mellow mood, I expressed all this to my husband, Bill.

“I can see you’re on some kind of kick,” he said good-naturedly.

“I believe in appreciation,” I said. “Certainly, I appreciate you.”

Embarrassed, he laughed and turned away.

“Seriously,” I told him, “I can think of a hundred things you do that I appreciate starting with the fact that you’re 82 and still make plans for our future.”

I could tell by his red face and his sideways glance that he was flattered. When he said, “Not likely,” I took it as a challenge.

Secretly, I numbered a pad of paper 1 – 100, wrote a heading: ONE HUNDRED THINGS I APPRECIATE ABOUT WILLIAM, and with a magnet, attached it to the refrigerator. Giving myself a timeline, I settled on a month where I would observe, mull over and jot down anything Bill had done out of need or out of the kindness of his heart. It’s great that he replaces light bulbs when I ask him but even better when he surprises me with jelly doughnuts. So the list began. Some of the items were about ordinary things: stuff that husbands do such as moving heavy furniture or filling up the car’s gas tank. Certainly I’m grateful that he takes care of his health and is cheery in the morning. More importantly, he’s a patient man, pleasant with neighbors, and even cooks the fish he catches. Certainly it is appreciated when he hands me the morning paper first, or doesn’t mention my weight gain. On a more serious note, he gives to charity and never holds a grudge.

My list did not take a whole month and it was an eye-opening project. My spouse did many unnoticed tasks: small things, like feeding the cat. This became monumentally appreciated on a cold rainy night when Bill drove to the super market to get our finicky pet her favorite brand of cat food.

In appreciation for my list, William recently sent flowers. A nice touch and hey, I appreciate it.