My mother was a stickler about thank you notes when I was growing up. My sister and I dutifully sat down and wrote thank you notes after every birthday and Christmas. I now have friends and family who often insist it’s not necessary to send them a thank you note for various acts of kindness. I can’t help myself. I feel like an ungrateful wretch if I don’t send a note of some kind.
I’ll be honest: I’ve streamlined the process for big events. Sometimes each card doesn’t have a personal message. But if they lack a handwritten note, they have a super cute photo of Monkey Boy, so I’m not a total derelict.
This week, a friend posted a link to a story on NPR about a man who wrote a thank you note every day for a year. He wrote a book about the change it made in his life. I started thinking, “I could write a thank you note every day.” Then I wondered, could I? Do I have 365 people to thank? That’s a lot of people. So I sat down and began making a list. It took less than an hour to hit 365. I’m going to keep adding to the end of it. There’s nothing that says I can’t keep doing this as long as I want to. So I’ve begun my Gratitude Project.
My biggest fear now is sticking to it. I’m good at planning this projects. I sometimes putter out in the middle. The unfinished knitting projects upstairs are testament to that. But I’ll never know unless I give it a whirl. I’ve organized a calendar out of the first 365 people. (Some of you are rolling your eyes right now. Of course, there’s a calendar and a spreadsheet.) I’m going to start with the names to whom I did not send a Christmas card. Then I’ll go from there.
I don’t have an expectation this will change my life in the way some people think of lives changing: there will be no fame or fortune from my Gratitude Project. I hope telling others “thank you” will lift their spirit a bit. I pray the acknowledgment of friendship or a job well done or a kindness shown to me or my family or just acknowledgment of being seen will matter. But the thing I hope most for is a change in me: a more grateful attitude.