This post is about a habit that I started in recent times. It is a very simple thing to do and I found it to be very rewarding so I wanted to share it here!
In India, gift exchange during Christmas is not a norm. Some people do it, some don’t. However, I came to know that Christmas is synonymous with gift exchange here. When my elder son Adith was attending DePaul School for Hearing and Speech, I gave his teachers gift cards for Christmas and I received a hand written thank you note from each of them. I had not received anything handwritten in years, so it felt really nice! And the magic of writing is that often, people write things they might not have said otherwise.
When it was time for Adith to graduate from DePaul, I gave everyone who had taught him/ interacted with him thank you cards. 2 teachers were very dear to me and I wanted to go the extra mile for them. I wrote both of them long letters detailing about all the things that made them special and mentioned instances that happened over the last years. One of them was a speech therapist and she used to write short notes inside his speech folder about how he did that day – that he did well / appeared sleepy today / mastered something very quickly etc. She also mentioned about Adith’s improvement in spontaneous speech (” I see you wearing scarf today”) and funny things he said (“we talked about zoo and Adith mentioned he was going to see Dinosaurs at the zoo”). Her notes meant a lot to me and I truly appreciated that she cared to write about it in the small 30 minute session that she had with him. I realized its value only after he had other therapists later on and I din’t receive such updates. So before leaving DePaul, I wrote a letter to her citing how much those notes meant to me and what a great job she did with Adith. I received a powerful return note (though not that long!) that it was very encouraging to read it and that I reaffirmed her career choice.
It was while writing these notes that I once again remembered God has been generous with the gift of memory with me. I could write about things that happened 2 or 3 years before!
- Adith attended a half- day kindergarten and he used to come back in a bus different from the one he goes to school in the morning. This return bus was driven by a very smart, elderly lady who always had a smile on her face. On day 1, all parents received a note from her – she introduced herself and mentioned that she has been a driver for the last 36 years! Next day, I handed her a note wishing her good luck and thanking her. She was a very nice lady always ensuring that all the 4 kids getting down here met with their parents and as she left the stop,she would wave and smile. She also handed out treats for the kids and their siblings on holidays like Valentine’s day, Halloween, Christmas etc. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing her next year since first grade was full day so on the last day of school, I gave her a thank you note with a gift card. A few weeks into the summer vacation, I received a thank you note from her! I was moved because she certainly has put in some effort to find my address and knew I was not expecting anything.
- Adith had CCD classes (faith formation) every Monday evening. Usually my friend dropped Adith and her son to the class and Loveson picked them up on the way back from office. I have never went to his class during the school year but I could see that they did a great job instilling faith in kids in a fun and interesting way. In India, catechism is mandatory till 10th (till 12th in some places) and the 10th grade certificate is necessary for the person to have their marriage in the church. Most churches are very strict with the classes and we see it as something as important as the regular school itself. To the best of my knowledge, its not seen in the same way here. Parents volunteer as teachers here and they have fun activities to keep the children coming. Adith enjoys going to CCD because they do crafts and painting and it is a lot of fun over there. Often he comes back with little prayers and flyers for parents. There was a “Way of the Cross” coloring book that I particularly found very useful. I used to recite that with Adith and Nivedh during Lent time. It was so kid-friendly and even Nivedh knew what happened at each station towards the end of Lent. The flyers for parents had practical tips on how we could raise kids as God’s children. It was different from what I had learned in my catechism years and I really liked it. The church had asked that all parents give a thank you card for the CCD volunteers at the end of school year. Adith wrote inside the thank you card and I also included a small note mentioning how much I loved the “Way of Cross” coloring book and other small prayers. During the vacation, I received a letter in mail from his teacher citing she was happy that I found the prayers handy and that it was nice to have Adith in her class.
I could easily see that my hand written letters have given joy to those who received it. And I felt the same when I received it from them as well. When we add a personal touch to things, it makes a huge difference. I also realized that people here would never fail to acknowledge something they received. In India, we take a lot of things for granted and “thank you” is something we say in situations we are conditioned to. Every time I go to India now, I realize how less we thank people. It was only after I was exposed to the culture here that I realized this, of course.
I agree that writing personal thank you notes is not something every one would enjoy doing. But if its something novel to you and if you are ready to give it a try, go for it..I assure you that it would be very rewarding..if we could give someone joy by doing something so easy, then why not?
Its the simple things in life that makes it joyous..