A HUGE thank you to those who participated in last week’s service challenge! Operation Christmas Child is very close to my heart, and I have loved hearing from those of you who have packed shoeboxes. And remember, you have until Monday (the 24th) to drop them off.

Since last week’s challenge was more complicated (and more expensive) than usual, and since the holidays are a busy time, we’re going to do something simple this week. It’s a challenge that you can complete in 60 seconds, if your schedule is crammed.

This week, with Thanksgiving approaching, I want you to say thank you.

The Gratitude Challenge

Many of us spend at least a few moments on Thanksgiving pondering over the many things we have in our lives to be grateful for. And hopefully, we are thinking of the people we are grateful for.

But are we telling them?

This week, I want you to thank people who aren’t expecting to be thanked. Reach a bit out of your comfort zone. Take a few minutes out of your day to put your gratitude into words, or maybe even into a note or a letter. Make someone’s day by letting them know how much you appreciate the good that they do.

Here are a few suggestions for you:

* Thank your postal carrier. Leave a small note, and maybe even a little gift. If the weather is cold, stick a package of hot chocolate in there. At one point I had a female mail carrier, and I left her a candle and a thank you note. I got a very sweet note back from her. I know people complain about the rising cost of stamps, but I consider it almost a miracle that for less than 50 cents, I can get a card or a letter to people on the other side of the country. And I am grateful for the people who work hard to help make that happen, even when the weather is terrible.

* Thank your sanitation worker. Many times, my son and I have gone outside to wave at the garbage men. (Because NOTHING is as exciting to a little boy as a huge truck that sweeps up your garbage can. Nothing.) One day, we brought out a few water bottles and granola bars. They were SO appreciative! It’s a rather thankless job. Let’s say thanks.

* Thank a teacher or a librarian. What a privilege, to have education right at our fingertips, freely accessible. When is the last time you let a librarian know that you’re grateful for the services he or she provides? When is the last time that you wrote a note to your child’s teacher (or even your own former teacher) to say thank you for the impact that he or she made? Speaking as a former teacher – that note will be treasured.

* Thank your cashier. When I have a cashier who is particularly friendly (or particularly patient with me, THAT lady with two kids and a stack of coupons), I try to either find a manager or to go online and take a satisfaction survey. I want friendly employees to know that I appreciate them, and I want managers to know at raise time, or at layoff time, which cashiers are the best. And many times, they will be rewarded with a small bonus if their name is mentioned in an online survey. It’s a free, easy way for you to give back and to say thank you.

Those are a few ideas for this week’s little challenge. As motivation to get you going, I wanted to share one last story.

Last year, my family decided to do a “Random Act of Kindness” day. I bought a few $5 gift cards to hand out to strangers. (IT WAS SO FUN!) The last one was in my pocket for several hours. I had someone in mind, but it didn’t really fit with my “doing things for strangers” plan. Finally I decided, forget the plan. If I feel like someone needs a little bit of appreciation, I need to act on that.

So when I picked up my son from preschool, I found the custodian. As I approached her, she smiled at me (as always). I opened my mouth to tell her about this “random act of kindness”, but as I looked into her eyes, my words changed.

“I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you. You do SUCH a great job keeping this school looking nice, and you are always so kind to me and to my children. I know that my daughter threw up once when she was here, and I never really thought about who had to clean that up – but it was you. You help take care of my children, and you do it with a smile, and I am so grateful for that.”

Oh, her face.

And oh – her gratitude.

It was nothing but a $5 gift card and a few kind words.

But seeing her face melt as she realized that she was valued and appreciated, I realized that it might be the best $5 I’ve ever spent.

My challenge to you, internet friends, is simple: this week, look for people who need to know that they’re appreciated. Tell them. Write your words down. Send a gift. Send a text. Send a Facebook message. Follow your heart. It doesn’t matter WHAT you do so much.

Just say thank you.

1 Comment on The Gratitude Challenge

  1. This week, I took the time to complete several customer satisfaction surveys, and I made sure to include the employee’s name and a sincere compliment. It only took a few minutes, and it’s such an easy way to say thank you for excellent service!