Gratitude and Gladness of Heart

I’ve been to several weddings in the last five years, and I know it’s customary (it’s kind of expected), to bring a gift for the brand new family. We also gave to a GoFundMe person whose son needed some surgery. Then there are the high school graduations.

Now a trend has developed over the last decade that bothers me, and it’s the callousness of not being acknowledged by the giftees in the way of some expressed gratitude – usually a Thank You card – for our benevolence. It’s been about seven weeks since the last wedding and I enclosed, along with the gift, a Thank You card in a self –addressed, stamped, envelope and a slip of paper giving suggestions on how to write something befitting towards an expression of appreciation – an experiment of sorts.

About two weeks later the groom’s father texted me and said they had a good laugh over my enclosure – thought it was a funny joke. I texted back that it was a reminder about manners. I still have not received that self-addressed Thank You card.
When this first began years ago, I asked the aunt of a bride for whom we brought a gift, why we haven’t seen a Thank You card. She said straightforwardly, “Ray, you’re living in the past.” Fact is, all the non-thankers were Millennials. More recently I spoke to a very well-educated, moral friend of mine and ran this subject by him, and that my feelings were hurt. He told me a gift should be without strings and that expecting anything relating to appreciation from the recipient was wrong and unjustified.

Yeah, maybe he’s right. But when one man came back to thank Jesus for curing his leprosy, Jesus said, “Were not ten men cured? Where are the other nine?” Then He said, “Go, your faith has healed you.” Obviously Jesus’ feelings were hurt also. Created in the image of God we were given emotions that God and we hold in common: Creativity, love, joy, and unfortunately, anger, embarrassment and under-appreciation.

Thanksgiving is approaching quickly – a holiday that we set aside so that we may ponder our good fortune. Gratitude for what we have is chicken soup for the soul. Gratitude gives peace of mind and no more than a simple “Thank You” does so much for both parties, whether it’s a small favor, a pecan pie, a bought lunch or a wedding gift.

A wise man called Solomon wrote about a grateful man. He said, “He seldom reflects on the days of his life because the Lord keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” Those who have never learned to say it are missing out on a profound human experience, even if it’s an employee for the city of Kyle who obviously did more than they had to do to help a customer. A big smile and a sincere “thank you so much” just do something undescribably satisfying for both parties.

So what are we grateful for? Why was Thanksgiving important enough to make it a national holiday. Look around and see the condition of most of the world and thank God you are here in America. Talk to someone from Hong Kong and ask them what they’re afraid of. Go to the Middle East like many of my friends have who have worked there. Go to any country in Africa and come back to America. How about North Korea?

No place in the world or in past history has EVER had so much to offer to those who want to work. Why do so many people seem to be unhappy with America and despise the inclusive culture that accepts nearly everyone – albeit with natural and logical restrictions – who want to become part of this great experiment? I say part, not set apart with defiance of our laws and the culture that made America the best in the world.

Who can hear “The Star Spangled Banner” and ponder its words and keep a dry eye while standing in reverence for that which it stands. Sure America has its faults but it has the best intentions of anyplace that ever was. And that food you’re eating … Americans spend the lowest percentage of their paycheck on food than anyone else in the world. It’s time to just say, Thank You.

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