Thanksgiving has come and gone. Yesterday, we left town at dawn for the three hour drive to the cottage. We chose to drive very rural roads and were in thrall as the sun rose to light the autumn foliage while tender mist hung picturesquely in the low areas. The deer were out in force, however, foraging for their own Thanksgiving banquets; they were out in such force that we had four narrow misses. Yes, our hearts leapt to our mouths more than once as we braked and swerved to avoid colliding with those white-tailed critters.
I am thankful that we were able to avoid the breaking of bodies and denting of vehicles, but it is the Giving of Thanks rather than the feeling of thankfulness that has been much on my mind lately. For the time being, I am not so much thinking about feeling thankful for our blessings but about our responsibility to express our thanks to others when they have aided us in some way.
You see, I live with a very considerate woman. Come the end of June when school was out for the summer, she was the only one of our Tuesday night group who thought to give a card and little gift to our own Linedancing teacher. The only one! Heck, I was an unthanked-taken-for-granted teacher for thirty years, and I didn't even think to express my appreciation for this woman who freely donates her time, week in and week out. Another little example: when we moved last year, The Boy asked a few of his friends to help him do little jobs for us. Cuppa was thoughtful enough to show her appreciation by sending them gift certificates. They were blown away and felt very good about having come to our aid because they knew that we really appreciated their efforts.
It's simple: people appreciate being shown appreciation. Most of us like to help others; it makes us feel good to lend a helping hand. But sometimes we don't feel so good about what we have done if an appropriate measure of thankfulness is not returned to us. A number of years ago, for example, we had a computer to give away. Although it wasn't new, it was still a very decent computer in very decent shape. We asked daughter if she knew of a deserving university student who might be able to make use of it. She did, and we packed up the computer, monitor, and printer, and deposited it at Bug's place for this other student to pick up at her convenience. Months later, Bug said, "Oh yeah, XX said thanks for the computer." Somehow, I didn't feel thanked. Could the girl have not taken a few moments to pen a few heart-felt words in a card? That's all she had to do — not much — but it would have helped me feel a whole lot better about the giving of this gift. As it stands, I was cheated out of much of the pleasure that is supposed to come from giving.
I think most of us are like that. We're human, and we like to feel appreciated. About a month ago I watched Oprah's special on New Orleans. Bon Jovi was on the show; he and his band had donated a million dollars to provide housing for evacuees. I'm sure that it felt good to do that, but I think he felt really good to be there on site and show the families their new homes in person and bask in their happiness and appreciation. Bon Jovi wanted to help and didn't need grand gestures of appreciation, but, being human, he had a need to hear the thanks of those families. It was a sort of validation; he could truly see and feel that he had done a good thing. Sometimes, we humans need a lot of reassurrance.
Our neighbour (let's call her Ivy) is another good example. She was dabbling with painting last winter. When she showed us her art work, Cuppa mentioned that I used to scan and print Cuppa's own paintings on the computer and how nice it was to have cards or reproductions of one's own work. Cuppa used to delight in giving cards of her art. Of course, I had soon volunteered to do the same for Ivy who was absolutely thrilled when she had the results in her hands. She asked me how much I wanted to be paid: "Nothing, Ivy. It's just nice to be able to do nice things for people." However, in a few days I found an envelope stuffed under the door. It contained a nice thank you donation. I knew then, that she really and truly appreciated my efforts. I didn't need her donation to put food on the table, but the gesture meant quite a lot to me. Words of the moment come cheaply, but when someone expends a little time and even expense to show her appreciation, we know that it's the real deal.
So, that's all that I want to share, and it's no grand insight, but I think it's an area that many of us overlook. Oh, we're thankful, or so we say, for the lives that we live and the nations in which we live them, and I'm sure that we appreciate the kindnesses that others sometimes bestow upon us. There are many of us, however, who need to learn to take the time and energy to properly express our gratefulness. It doesn't take much and needn't always involve monetary outlays, but it does mean a lot to people to feel truly appreciated for their acts of kindness and generosity. We all want to make a difference in this world, and, when we receive true and meaningful thanks for our humble efforts, we feel that we have, perhaps, achieved our desire and really made a difference — however small.