The Power of a Heartfelt Thank You
By MARIANNE WOOD
I feel moved every time I recall the Amish farmer in the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia one Thanksgiving week. He sold me ten deep red leather candy canes with bells held on brass rings. I gave the sets of bells to friends that year for Christmas. I love their tinkling sound and the memory that follows.
This farmer had a shop helper that day, a blond-headed grandson wearing overalls and a bowl haircut. Approximately twelve years old, this young boy helped ring up my purchase. As the older man handed the sack of bells to me, he looked me straight in the eyes and said “thank you” in a way that presses deep into my soul today. He said it slowly, and it seemed to come from his heart as well as his head. He meant, “thank you for valuing the work of our hands and for helping our small business become, at least today, worth the time and trouble it was to get here.” I heard every word of this short goodbye, and I recall it sometimes when his bells cling, cling, cling as we go through our garden door. I never put them away.
Nowadays, I use less stationery, fewer stamps, and I take less time thanking people. I’ve even started sending digital cards on occasion. It’s harder to convey sincerity with this medium, but “it gets the job done,” I tell myself. But thanking, in person, with that glint in one’s eyes, other body language, and articulating words of gratitude, can light up a giver as well as a receiver. Here’s another example.
I recently heard from a close friend how her elderly mother-in-law chooses to live without selfish sadness. She never complains or shows distress about living alone. Her rich connection with Christ indeed fills her day with many reasons to smile and to speak out her gratitude.
I can picture her, having known her as part of this dear family for many years. She has a glowing countenance. Widowed a short time ago, she chooses to live gratefully. And from all accounts, she also lives quite healthfully. “Thank you” is always in her heart, if not on her lips.
Recently, in a Sunday school class that will read and discuss Tim Keller’s Hidden Christmas, I heard more of this beautiful grace or eucharisteo. Answers to our icebreaker question, “What is a favorite Christmas tradition?” elicited many usual favorites like Christmas Eve candlelight services and cookie-baking, some honesty: “I like the presents,” and more than a few heartfelt words of thanksgiving for the gatherings of family and friends. Everyone left ready for Thanksgiving!
There is great power in a heartfelt thank you.
Marianne Wood works as an editorial assistant and researcher for Bill Wright
I have just experienced the blessing of thanksgiving from a former neighbor. She is 87 years old and recently moved to El Paso to a veterans’ nursing home. She lived next door to me and we became friends. I have consistently sent cards, notes, and called on the phone. I just received a 6- page handwritten letter she had painstakingly penned using her nearly blind eyes and arthritic hands. She included 3 photos of her cat Skeeter who was also my friend. She poured out thanks for my communication and told me how much she loves me. It takes so little from us to make a huge difference in someone else’s life.
I recently received a sincere thank you note that really lifted my spirits and encouraged me to say — and write — “thank you” more often. It is my New Year’s resolution. Thank you for reminding us of the power of gratitude.