Going through the mail today I was pleased to see that we had received two thank-you notes, sent to us from families who commended team members by name. This was a great feeling for two reasons.
First, I always enjoy hearing from families we serve that one or more of our team has touched their hearts sufficiently to want to let me know. Second, I love receiving thank-you notes in a way that some tease me as being “old-fashioned.” Don’t get me wrong. I am young enough that I can appreciate a text that says, “GR8 2 C U! Thx 4 hosting” when I receive one. Or, the one-line e-mail that says, “Great to be together with you; appreciate our time together.” That is just fine, too. It’s the thought that counts, right?
It’s probably just the way my parents, especially my mother, insisted on my learning the value of writing notes and saying “thank you” to everyone who’d shown me a special kindness, or taught me something, or gave me a gift. Through the years, especially early on, I wasn’t a particularly willing student of that lesson.
The attitude I had when writing thank-you notes for birthday gifts as a kid was something like a letter that you’d write from camp: “How are you? I am fine. Thank you for the (fill-in-the-blank). I will really enjoy it. Sincerely, Cody.” As much as I don’t want to admit it, I used to grumble when I “had” to write thank-you notes. But I did it.
The first time I ever received a thank-you note, though, was completely different. In perfect handwriting, someone took the time to thank me for doing something I didn’t consider something special. I just wanted to help. But that action started changing how I felt when it was my turn to write notes. I still enjoy writing and receiving them. What do you think about thank-you notes?
Think back. Do you recall the first thank-you note you received? What was it for? Was it something you did, something you said, something you fixed or made better? These days we have so many reasons to be grateful for what people do in our lives that we could write at least one thank-you note each day if we set our mind to it.
Years ago, daytime TV star Oprah Winfrey began a theme of gratitude on her shows. Now, don’t give me a hard time about Oprah—Chelsea and I were talking about appreciating people and she reminded me about “the attitude of gratitude” that became popular some time back. There was even a gratitude journal that made people think about writing down all the things they were grateful for in their lives. And, Oprah had a point!
It’s natural that when you devote your thoughts to appreciating the good things in life, there’s not much time left over to focus on things that are going wrong, bad things that have happened to you, or disappointments stemming from things others did.
From early works by positive thinker Dr. Wayne Dyer, we learned about the power of visualizing goodness and manifesting good things around. Then, the law of attraction became popular that claimed that “like attracts like.” I enjoy reading publications that focus on positive stories, positive outcome, and people being happy. That may be a direct reason for my philosophy about life, and death. Finding the best in people, and in situations seems to be the best approach, the attitude of gratitude, essentially.
We cannot change the loss of our loved ones. But, we can remember them and find the proper ways to say thank-you in our funeral and life celebration services that reinforce to us that we appreciated all the good that they had done during their lifetimes. When people prepare an obituary tribute, the first thought is to want to tell others how wonderful they were. When they want to prepare a eulogy, they focus on all of the best ways in which that life impacted others for the best. And, when people write a book, memoir, produce a video, or scrapbook about someone, it’s always the best.
So, in thank-you notes, we have the chance to freeze time for a minute, to reflect and consider that someone put us first in their thoughts for a period of time. They thought about what we might want, like, need, or enjoy for a gift such as birthday or anniversary or sometimes a gift for no reason at all. When we write a thank-you note, we have the opportunity to focus strictly on the giver of the gift and think of them as the priority of the moment. Really, a thank-you note is a gift back to the giver—of unselfish focus and appreciation.
It’s my privilege everyday at work to open the mail and find your thoughtful thank-you notes written to show special appreciation for what we take pride in doing in serving your families. When you write these notes, it has not been long since you lost the ones you love, which makes your gift of time and focus all the more special to our entire Callaway-Jones family. We are a family here and when one of us is singled out, we all share in the appreciation. Thank-you notes are not just a little thing to us. They’re everything, and we thank you.