Nearly everything that’s good for us requires sacrifice.
Like, washing my makeup off before bed. I’ve done harder things in life than wash my face, but when it’s 11 p.m. and I’m falling asleep to “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” I’d rather just develop pores the size of meteorites.
It’s the same with gratitude. My mom just taught me something that never occurred to me before: giving true thanks will cost you something. I’m afraid we’re evolving into a people who’d just rather fall asleep to Triple D.
A while ago, I had my friend over for brunch. I had missed her birthday, so I gave her tiny gift. It was nothing, really. Just a little something.
A few days letter, I opened my mailbox and found a card from her. She wrote me a beautiful note of thanks (with a real pen!) and put it in an envelope (with a real stamp!) and actually walked to her mailbox and put it in (and put the flag up!).
I clutched her card to my chest like it was diamonds. She did all this, FOR ME?
Most of us still manage to say thank you, albeit it’s often hurried while we’re scrolling through Facebook. But expressing true gratitude isn’t just words. It requires a sacrifice — of time, of effort and thoughtfulness. That’s what makes it so beautiful. It means taking time and care to be personal about your gratitude. To be specific about why you’re so thankful. To pay it forward. To, someday, return the love to the person who has so beautifully given it to you.
True gratitude shouldn’t be old-fashioned. And, good grief, we shouldn’t be surprised by it! That latest trend where we allowed our kids to do whatever they wanted based on their feelings is really starting to cause some problems.
Parenting thought leaders posed that children shouldn’t be forced to say thank you; they should be allowed to say it in their own time. Never mind that moment rarely comes. My toddler just open-mouth cried because her butter melted on her toast, and she’s supposed to be trusted to make sound choices?
This kind of parenting, where child knows best, has generational effects that are so slow we don’t realize what we’ve lost. And, like washing my face, the consequences of neglecting it aren’t immediate — until one day I’ll wake up to a Shar-Pei dog face and have a few regrets.
Our natural instinct is never to do the right thing; it’s to do the most self-centered, convenient thing in that moment. That’s why, when we resist that urge and do what’s right, goodness blooms. Relationships have solid foundations. Hope in humanity, restored.
And this, I’m afraid, requires sacrifice. So, I guess I’ll go wash my face.
Anna Lind Thomas is a humor writer and mom to daughters Lucy and Poppy and English bulldog Bruno, wife to Rob Thomas and founder of HaHas for HooHas. She writes for momaha.com.