Merry Christmas Friend,
We are no longer waiting for Christmas and are in the Christmas season! The 12 Days of Christmas run from December 25th until January 6th when we enter Epiphany
Why does writing a thank you seem like such a chore?
This fall I was witness to a living parable. On Thursday afternoons, when needed, I am a substitute tutor to elementary school children. After their snack and an hour of tutoring, twelve children and twelve tutors gather for “club time.” We sing a song and then Ms. Debbie presents a Bible lesson.
On that day she shared when Jesus healed the ten lepers and only one thanked him. In the middle of her fun
True to her word, at the end of the lesson she opened a box that contained the most utterly adorable turkey cookies any child—or adult!—had ever seen. Squeals of joy as she handed each kid a cookie couldn’t be contained; even us tutors elbowed each other and marveled at the delightful cookies and scene. After she handed out the cookies, she counted the children sitting at her feet and can you believe it? There were ten.
She said, “Interesting, there are ten of you, just like there were ten lepers. And only one of you thanked me.”
Like King David when he realized that Nathan wasn’t talking about “some man,” we knew we were on holy ground because Ms. Debbie could not have orchestrated the punch line.
The importance of gratitude
Living on the field, there are many that we need to thank. And I will be honest, even now years into being on full-time support, I can feel a sigh in my soul when I open a monthly giving statement and see new names that need thanking. (I also feel selfish and a bit ashamed that this is my reaction at times.)
But a few simple practices can help you (and me) to thank
1—Make a list. If for Christmas or a birthday, make a list as you open the presents (or have someone else do this as you open them). For year-end giving, make a list of who gave what. If for other events (i.e. a teammate made a special meal), add write a thank you to your to-do list.
A list helps in two ways. First, what might have felt overwhelming now is concrete. Second, as you write the notes, you have the satisfying feeling of crossing names off and seeing the task shrink.
2—Make a plan. This is a simple, but necessary step. You might live in a part of the world where the postal system is simply not an option. What will work for you? If you can use physical mail, I encourage you to. Often, time is not urgent with a thank you. When someone opens their mailbox and sees an
If you do not have any stamps for your home country, next time you are home, get some (or ask someone to send you a book of stamps . . . that you can thank them for, wink). When people are passing through and can take a letter or two with them, get in the habit of mailing a thank you.
3—Get your supplies ready. If I have a stack of cards and a pen I like, once I get going, I keep going. Pro tip: have addresses handy; nothing derails me like not having addresses!
4—Write and Keep it simple. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be. You are not writing a 500-word college essay. You are thanking someone for their gift. I found a great list of phrases if you’re not sure what to say.
- State what they gave you.
- State why you like it, need
it,or appreciate it.
- Affirm the relationship. (“It’s thanks to generous supporters like you that we are able to ______.”
5—Deliver the thank you.
Writing thank you’s are more than a social obligation, they are a spiritual practice that fosters gratitude.
Like the one leper, thanking people builds a moment of reflection into a full life as you stop, turn, and say, “Thank you.”
Guess what time it almost is? Global Trellis Challenge time! The January Challenge will be announced next week complete with 30 prizes you could win and the generous sponsors who are helping to throw the biggest cross-cultural worker party! But first, maybe you could knock out some thank yous.
Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash