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Have you ever noticed the different distances a Thank You can travel? I went through a drive-through the other day, and at the end of my order the employee told me the total and said, “Thank you.” That Thank You traveled from her head to my head.
On the other hand, I had lunch with a friend recently, and when we had finished talking about common struggles, she smiled and said, “Thank you.” That Thank You traveled from her heart to my heart.
What was the difference? The difference lay in the place of origin. Head-acknowledged thankfulness reaches the head. It’s the right thing to say, and the politeness is recognized by both people’s minds.
But heart-felt thankfulness reaches the heart. It travels past all the surface stuff and speeds to the very innermost parts of who we are. I think that’s what Charlotte Mason had in mind when she penned these words of wisdom:
A grateful heart makes a full return, because it rejoices not only in the gift but in the giver. Formal thanks are proper enough on occasions, but there are other ways of expressing gratitude, which, indeed, is like love and a fire, and cannot be hid. A glance, a smile, a word of appreciation and recognition straight from the heart, will fill the person who has done us a kindness with pleasure (Vol. 4, Book 1, p. 109).
True thankfulness celebrates the giver, not just the gift. I love this Thanksgiving season when we remember how the Pilgrims set aside several days to give thanks to God for His provision and protection. They weren’t just mouthing some vague “I’m thankful for” sentiments into the air; they were expressing gratitude to a Person.
And it is that one-to-one focus that makes thankfulness reach from heart to heart. Whether we are thanking God our Father or thanking a child, rejoicing in the giver strengthens the relationship.
Even after this Thanksgiving season, let’s continue to celebrate each giver with “a glance, a smile, or a word of appreciation and recognition straight from the heart.”