As a young bride in 1975, my favorite part of the whole wedding festivities was writing the thank you notes. We received many beautiful gifts, most from my husband’s family friends, people who had not even met me. Yet they were thoughtful and generous in wishing us well and helping us embark on married life well-outfitted.
“You received a fondue pot from the Smiths,” my mother-in-law would report to me when the gifts arrived at her home. “And Cousin Mabel sent you eight silverware settings!”
Such kindness could not go unacknowledged!
So I would reach for my beautiful Crane’s notecards – rich, creamy ecru bordered in olive green, emblazoned with my initials – and sat to express my gratitude for such kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity. It was often weeks, sometimes months, before I would see the gifts. The notes, however, went out right away. I would sit and imagine the thought and care that went into the choice of gift. Share in my mother-in-law’s excitement at opening the packages and describing their contents. Smile at the stories I heard from my new family: “Does your daughter-in-law spell her name m-a-r-g-u-e-r-i-t-a?” someone asked my father-in-law once as they bumped into each other at a restaurant. “No,” he answered. “She spells it the other way.” And walked away. Inspired by these imaginings, I would then put pen to card and let my heart speak.
I realize now, all these decades later, that in writing all those thank you notes I was given an even more valuable gift: the practice of gratitude. Back then, once the notes were written, I simply got on with life, caught up in the excitement of getting married, moving to a new place, being a grown-up. I did not understand the subtle and profound effect the accidental gratitude practice brought to my life.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to have much to be grateful for and many opportunities to express thankfulness. However, it’s taken me this long to understand just how important a conscious practice of expressing thanks is in my life.
Here’s to a little more conscious practice in 2015!