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During this time of year, it seems that many try their hardest to make up for all the times during the past year they forgot to say "thank you." Although it would be so much easier just to post a status update on Facebook or to tweet, "I want to thank all those who have had done anything for me or given me a gift," the truth is, there is something magical — even powerful — that comes when we take the time to thank those who have had made a difference in our lives.
I am not sure why it has become so difficult to say those two words, but for many it has become a lost tradition. I was raised and taught by parents who emphasized the importance of being thankful and showing our gratitude. In fact, to this day I try very hard to keep up with something my mom taught me, and that is to leave a small thank-you note any time you stay at someone's home or go to their home for dinner. I have noticed that the times I actually do this, I feel better and I know the person who received it feels special as well.
As I reflect on why I feel so strongly about the power of thank you, I reflect upon different experiences that helped to shape my life. One of those experiences came from one of my sons. After a long day at work and trying to manage the stresses that come from it, I returned home trying to bring myself to a place of peace. As I entered our front door, I was greeted by one of my sons, who wanted to play catch. It was not something I honestly wanted to do, but I could tell he was waiting for me specifically to play catch with him. So, I didn't even change my clothes; I was still in my suit, and we went outside to play catch.
We didn't play very long, as dinner was ready to eat. As we walked to the back door, my son looked up at me and simply said, "Thank you for being my dad."
Each time I think of that experience I feel that same emotion I felt that day: the most pure love you can feel. I do not remember much more about that evening and, to be truthful, I cannot even remember what was stressing me out at work that day. But I do know that the simple words of heartfelt gratitude expressed by my son forever gave me perspective of this life. In a simple exchange, I was taught more than someone who has earned the highest levels of education, and for that I am thankful.
In a simple exchange, I was taught more than someone who has earned the highest levels of education, and for that I am thankful.
So, when we think that saying "thank you" is not necessary or not cool, let us remember the words of President Thomas S. Monson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: "My sincere prayer is that we may express our gratitude always and thus find joy in the journey."
As we approach the holiday season there will be many opportunities to show our gratitude. I hope that each one of us will take the time to not only say "thank you" but write thank-you notes. Someone will cook the turkey, the potatoes, the pies, clean up, host family and friends — there are going to be many opportunities to express your heartfelt gratitude. You never know when your two words have a life-long impact.
Seth Saunders is currently Branch President of the Pembroke Branch (Spanish) and a Founding Board Member of The Pink Shoe Hero Foundation. Seth has been married 15 years to his amazing wife Amber and is the proud father of three wonderful sons.