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June 15, 2013

Looking Back: It's always important to express your graditude

The Daily Star

---- — There has been so many times in life that someone, somewhere, has done a kindness for another. Again, I can look back and be reminded that I, too, have been remiss at times with a thank you to express my gratitude for that kindness.

Early in my life, my mother encouraged us children to reciprocate with a letter of thanks for a gift that was given to us individually. I can clearly remember this as a hardship: What can I say? How can I express myself? What paper or stationery should I use ... and on and on ...

Now, today, I can truthfully say how much I appreciate that training of long ago. True, there were times ... too busy times ... that I missed the opportunity to make that special person assured of my thankfulness.

All this brought me to the possibility of directing my students to expressing their gratitude — not only for a specific occasion, but at any time, anytime that would enhance a friendship and ongoing thoughtfulness throughout the years to come.

It usually was holidays and celebrations that always seemed to be zeroed into like a “crutch” or the substitute for a child to individually create for themselves, their own inner self of feelings and how to express them. That’s part of growing. My idea was a hand-crafted note card that could be made anytime, easily, and would become a keepsake from that child’s youthful love.

The class was Elementary Art and the grade level was K through 6. We talked about the project of making a “thank you” or a “thinking of you” card that would be used throughout the year. Various designs and colors were highlighted with the main stimulus on creating an original stencil for a repeat overall design on the card front. They folded, created and then thought what could be said inside. 

Enthusiastic children took their cards home to delighted parents, who proudly displayed them on refrigerator doors and then into scrapbooks for the years to come. 

There are many times that I reminisce, perusing through our family collections from yesteryear. There are memories galore that nudge on my heart strings ... irreplaceable collections of years gone by. I should have collected more. 

A handwritten “thank you” is a special way to let people know that you appreciate their kindness. I believe that, and am personally so happy to have read those short handwritten notes in many of the cards I have received throughout the years. They are truly special and heartfelt. 

Believe it or not, I still have boxes of those cards. Every so often, I reminisce and look through them to get ideas for my next mailing to friends that I want to do a little something for just to let them know I care and am thinking of them.

Sometimes there is an opportunity to send a handmade bookmark, a folded pot holder or even a small doily along with the personal note. It is much appreciated, and so easy to slip into the small envelope, usually not requiring extra postage.

Not too long ago I read a disquieting observation: “In this world of cyber communication the hand-written messages of gratitude have become something of an endangered species.” Doesn’t that sound sad? Is the human element of caring, which is a facet of love, in jeopardy? I certainly hope not.

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 80-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www.