Empty Nest – by Curt Swarm
“If you have one friend, you’re a wealthy person.” I don’t know where I heard this, I thought it was a famous quote, maybe from Shakespeare. But Googling it turned up nothing.
A few years back, I wrote a column about one of my readers who wrote a thank you note a day for nine months, and it changed her life. She read of the concept in a book about a guy who was on the verge of suicide. He wrote a thank you note a day for a year, and turned his life around.
This December, at the beginning of Advent, I struck upon the idea of writing a thank you note a day for the month of Advent. The period of Advent is the four Sundays preceding the birth of Jesus. It means, “Coming.” It’s a good time to be thankful.
Mind you, I’m not a note writer. My handwriting is terrible, just ask Ginnie, who has to decipher what that word is that I’ve put on the grocery list! People judge who you are by your handwriting. And if you’re a poor speller, like I am, well, the die is cast. If I can type something out, like I’m doing right now, I’m better off—Spell Check is a game changer.
When I asked Ginnie if she had some thank you notes I could use, her eyes lit up. Of course she had thank you notes, boxes of them! That’s what women do. I soon had a box of thank you notes sitting on my desk ready for me to reveal my inner most thoughts. Ugh. It was the first of December. Note one: my hand shook so badly, I threw the first two attempts away. Should I print so people can read my writing, or use cursive? It’s called “cursive” for a reason—I curse while performing it.
I won’t tell you who I wrote my first thank you note to. All I’ll reveal is that I wrote out (scribbled) what I should have said to the person anyway. I was sweating in the armpits and it was a cooling relief to walk out to the mailbox in the December breeze to post it.
The second thank you note was a little easier.
One immediate reward of the daily thank you notes is that Ginnie and I now know if the mail has arrived. Our mail box is at the end of our driveway, and it’s a little bit of a chore walking out to get the mail, especially in inclement weather. If it’s not there, it’s a wasted trip, and we got wet for nothing. We’ve been trying to figure out a way to determine if the mail has arrived. (Creative designs using electric eyes and flashing lights come to mind.) We can see the mail box from our house. With a thank you note a day being deposited in the mail box, if the little red flag is down, the mail has arrived. Perfect!
After a few days of writing thank you notes, I noticed things going smoother. Being grounded in gratitude (attitude of gratitude) puts a whole new perspective on otherwise harried days. God and I came to an agreement: I do what He puts in front of me, don’t ask questions, and things work out marvelously. I may be getting more from the thank you notes than the recipients.
I have now completed the 30 days of Advent thank you notes. It’s not really that much of a burden to think of someone to say thank you to. (Yes, I sent one to Ginnie.) There are friends, family, and acquaintances. Ginnie’s address book is a big help. Most all of my notes begin with “Thank you for being my friend.” I have received back some heartwarming messages of how my note helped them in time of need. That makes me feel good.
With the 30 days up, I’ve decided to extend the thank you notes through January, maybe Easter. Ginnie and I are going to Israel in February with our church group (God willing). I’m wondering what effect a thank you note posted from the Holy Land will have on the recipient. Or me.
I’m a wealthy man!
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at email@example.com or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com