Sunday, February 16, 2014

2014.02.16 THANK YOU



Unless you’re six and perfectionistic about your large misshapen letters, then it takes a minute to write a thank-you note to your grandparents for your Christmas gift.

It takes even less than a minute for your grandparents to read your missive, and the rest of a swiftly aging lifetime to re-read it and inscribe it on their hearts.

My mother hounded me as a kid about writing my thank-you notes to my grandparents after a birthday or Christmas. I thought it was stupid, since I had already thanked them on the phone when they called.

My note was especially hard for my paternal grandparents, because, from birth to about ten, they gave me government savings bonds. When I was old enough to pick a silver pattern at Tiffany's, they gave me one piece of silverware in my pattern with my initials on each piece every birthday and every Christmas. The forks and knives came first, followed by teaspoons, soup spoons, and butter knives. 

As soon as I learned basic math, I figured out that to accumulate a whole set of 12 place settings, each set with 5 pieces of the most basic silverware @ the rate of 2 pieces a year, one for a birthday and one for Christmas, it would take over 30 years to complete my set. By then I'd be an old woman of forty; plus, the completion would happen only if my grandparents didn’t die before my set was complete, which they did.

All my careful calculations aside, I still wrote my thank-you notes every year. I never figured out ways to make my notes creative, or even enthusiastic. Thank you, I thought, didn't seem enough.

I think my parents, or an aunt, completed my set eventually, save some soup spoons and two dessert forks. After I was married I did use my good silver at holidays and to entertain, an activity I do not do well and avoided if possible.

Today my set sits in a lined silver chest where it stays more or less free of tarnish. It is beautiful. I don’t use it much any more. I’m about the age my grandparents were when they died. I hope one of my grandchildren will love and use my set.

My maternal grandmother was widowed and gave gifts that she, a prize seamstress, had made. I loved the specialized clothes she made for my favorite doll, Lucille. Those notes were easy.

One year an aunt sent each member of our family a single place mat, one of a matching set. We each had to write a note for our single mat.

Thank-you notes today from our grandchildren, sometimes two on a note, some in pencil and some boldly in ink, are more precious than a phone call or an email. I have a couple of samples.

“Dear Grampy and Grammy, Thank you soooo much for the sleeping bag. I sleep with it every night  they are so comfy. Everyone has been asking me where I got it. and also thank you sooo much for friendly’s (where we took them for ice cream).  Love   Her name in cursive.  See you soon”  Bold flower illustration in purple and signed by her two brothers, six and three, who also got bags.

“Dear grammy and grampy, I love the gift cards that you got me. I am planning to use them wisely. thank you.  love, ” Big smiley face illustration.

As they get older the notes are the same with a little more formality and content, and usually a small open circle to dot the i’s (girls). Then they include some reference to our “thoughtfulness” and maybe a sentence hoping we too had a Merry Christmas. And one teen super-shopper described the outfit she had already bought: “Thank you for the card. I bought a really cute outfit at Forever 21 that I love. Love you guys!” Some say “I love you,” and some have xxx and ooo.

They write to both of us, but Dick’s biological grandchildren put “Grampy” or “Grampy Sim” first, followed by “Grammy” or "Grammy Lyn.” My biological grandchildren put my name first. This tiny sensitivity may be on parental advice, but I don’t think so. They are all naturally good-hearted—not so easy to remain so with second marriages. I remember one of them asked, when she was about seven and trying to make sense of the family flow chart, whether her grandmother’s second husband had first been married to me, her father’s second wife?  In other words was there a swap? 

We adore every single one and all of these small and growing souls and, if all goes well, by next summer we will have our twelfth, six girls and six boys. 

We keep our thank-you notes in a basket for a long time. The children have no idea what these love- notes mean to us.

Thank + you = two words. They are as essential to the work of Godde as are the famous “three little words.”