Express your gratitude

Thoughts to Ponder – May 17, 2015

“The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who
has done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.”
Russel Lynes1

Gratitude is not just to be felt, but also to be expressed. Too often we feel grateful for someone who has done something nice for us, but we often do not express our gratitude. We say, “Thanks” or “Ok, nice” and let it go at that. Yet when we do something nice for others, we hope that they will express their thanks in a more effusive manner, such as, “Oh, what a wonderful thing you did. I really appreciate your hard work.”

Often this happens because of the way we were raised. Erma Bombeck once wrote, “I’m going to call my dad to tell him I love him – and listen to him say, ‘This call is costing you a fortune’ and hang up.”2 My parents grew up during the Depression when people had very little money to buy gifts. As a result when they received a gift or kindness, they often questioned the giver’s ability to provide that gift. For example, my mother would usually say something like, “This is pretty, but it costs too much,” not quite as curt as Erma Bombeck’s dad, but the words still hurt.

Six or seven years ago, I felt so frustrated that I said, “Mom, you take all the fun out of giving.”  She responded, “My friend recently told me that I take the blessing out of giving.” I replied that her friend was right. Mom became somewhat more expressive of her gratitude after that.

An excellent example of this happened when I was in high school. My church’s youth group planned a spring break trip to New York City. I saved up as much money as I could and my parents added the rest even though it stretched their budget to the limit. A few days before the trip my geometry teacher asked me to stay after class. My imagination saw all sorts of terrible situations. When class was over I reluctantly made my way to her desk only to learn that she was gifting me with $20 to spend however I wished on the trip. While on the trip, I budgeted carefully, did not spend the $20 and purchased a $1 or $2 souvenir for her to express my gratitude. My parents congratulated me on my frugality.

On my first day back to school I presented the teacher with the trinket and she thanked me. Pleased with her gratitude, I gave her the $20 and told her I didn’t need it. With a sad face, she responded, “I know you didn’t need it, but I wanted you to enjoy yourself a little more than your budget would allow.” I didn’t understand the impact of returning the money until much later. I was an ungrateful receiver of her kindness. My pride had not let me spend her generous gift.

As I look back I realize how much I hurt her feelings and know that I cannot make amends since she has long since left earthly life. The only way I can repay her kindness is to do as Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, “One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay ‘in kind’ somewhere else in life.”3

I ask my Guides to remind me more often of all that has been lovingly given and to pay it forward as often as I can.
And, so it is.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 17, 2015

1 Reader’s Digest 1954, listed in The New Penquin Dictionary of Modern Quotations
2 Treasury of  Women’s Quotations, pg 67, Carolyn Warner, Prentice Hall
Treasury of  Women’s Quotations, pg 144, Carolyn Warner, Prentice Hall

Sharon D. Dillon,, “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by Available in print and e-format at


12 thoughts on “Express your gratitude

  1. Wonderful column, Sharon, and very well written. I had parents who were the same way about gifts, and now I understand where they were coming from a bit better, so thank you! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Janie.
      My Sunday is always wonderful since I work at Busch Gardens. A day can’t be much more fun than that.
      I hope your Sunday has been wonderful too.

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