Saying ‘thank you’ is one of those habits that your parents are obsessed with drilling into you your whole childhood. You are reminded constantly to say it when anyone does you even the tiniest little thing for you, even if that thing is common courtesy or their job. After every birthday and Christmas and any other event you look forward to, they make you sit and write Thank You notes until your hand is sore.
Dear Nana, thank you for the stationary kit you got me for my birthday. I used it all up writing the thank you notes to everyone who bought my presents. I will need another one in time for school.
And, for most kids, saying ‘thank you’ becomes nothing but a chore. Something they have to do so often that it has lost all meaning.
But people expect that when they hear it from a kid. They expect it to be slightly grudging. Kids are too young to understand the sentiment of gratitude, of feeling touched by someone’s kindness. They expect presents on their birthday and to have people run around after them because they are kids. It’s all they’ve known. They’re not that long out of literally needing someone to take care of feeding them and cleaning them and making sure they’re not walking around covered in poo.
You’re an adult.
And you don’t need telling that it’s polite to thank someone when they do something kind for you, no matter how large or small.
But sometimes it can take a little reminder of the sentiment that’s supposed to come with those words.
Whether someone is just doing their job in helping you – bus drivers or bin men or doctors or fire fighters – or if they’ve just done you a small, simple nicety, like holding a door open or passing you the milk, it’s important to let them know that they are appreciated. That their contribution to your ease and wellbeing, no matter how off-hand, is noted and that you are grateful for it.
You take care of yourself. You’re responsible for your own mistakes and you get all the credit for your own achievements. You have to be on top of things, because the tiniest slip up and you could lose everything. The economy is too unstable for a lot of people to let things get on top of them.
If anyone ever takes time out of their own life to make yours a little bit easier, never forget that they probably all the same problems you do. And that they’re putting them on hold for you. They are putting all their own worries aside to focus on yours.
Think about that.
Don’t worry if all they’ve done is given you half an hour to listen to you bemoan something that’s bothering you. It counts. If they’ve helped you at all then they deserve your gratitude.
And you deserve to feel touched – to feel special – that people care enough about you to make that effort.
The best way to really show your appreciation to those good people in your life is to treat them exactly the same way they treat you. To make them feel loved and special and to show them that you will put your problems aside to prove that to them. To be there when they need you.
But sometimes, it’s nice to be able to just say it.
I appreciate you. I appreciate the things you do for me.
For being there.
For being you.