by Father Mark Goldasich
“Here, I know you like this!”
With those words, the waitress scooped another spoonful of delicious pasta onto my plate during a rehearsal dinner. Someone at the table com – mented, “Wow, you sure are her favorite.” That certainly seemed to be true, as not only did she make sure I had plenty to eat, but my iced tea and water glasses never ran dry.
Afterwards, I popped over to the serving station to say “thanks” and discovered why the service to me had been not just wonderful, but exceptional. It stemmed from the ending to the prayer that I said before we ate: “Lord, we thank you for the food we will share, for those who have prepared it and for all who serve it to us.”
The waitress thanked me for praying for the workers who are often forgotten and taken for granted. I left the restaurant that night determined to be even more vocal in my gratitude to others.
Of course, this isn’t a novel idea. In fact, Jan. 11 is known as International Thank-You Day. It’s believed the celebration was established in 1994 by Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith.
“Life is too short, and we do not [adequately] appreciate the people who have given us so much to be thankful for,” she said. “I feel there is a great need for [the day] since we really must return to a simpler, softer and safer time.”
January 11 was chosen because its numerals — 1/11 — “automatically make you think of yourself and the various other number-one folks in your life,” said Koopersmith.
I’m humbled when I think about all the people who have made my life richer and all those I depend on each day, usually unknowingly, to make my life run smoothly. Each morning, for example, I rely on “someone” to make sure that there is electricity coming into my house so that my lights and coffee maker function. Someone else ensures that there’s water for showering and drinking. Others grow the coffee that I use, process it, and get it to the store. Yet another someone made the cup that I pour the coffee in . . . well, you get the idea. How blessed we are and how truly we rely on each other.
So many times our lives are filled primarily with worries — some important, like the fiscal cliff; others not so much, like the sorry season the Chiefs had this year. Becoming more grateful people can change our perspective and our mood significantly, as it’s impossible to be worried and thankful at the same time.
What better way to start this new year than by celebrating International Thank You Day? And even if your Leaven doesn’t arrive on the day itself, who cares? Dedicate yourself to making 2013 an International Thank-You Year.
At the very least, make a list today of a dozen people — one for each month — that you’d like to thank. Then set a specific day, maybe the 1st or the 11th, to actually do it. Think, too, beyond just family and friends. Have you ever thanked your postal carrier, the garbage man or the person who delivers your morning newspaper? Ever expressed appreciation to the person who rounds up the shopping carts in the parking lot, the one who bags your groceries, or the employee who stacks the fruits and vegetables at the store? Ever thank the choir at your parish, the lector, the decorator of the sanctuary, the janitor, or the ushers? And for those good folks who have died, ever visit their graves to say a prayer or leave some flowers?
As you can see, this gratitude thing can keep us so busy that we won’t have much time in 2013 to fret or complain. So, no matter how you say it — hvala, danke, gracias, ni wega, merci, mahalo, takk or arigato — or how you express it — in person, by email, in a handwritten note, by phone — say it often and with all your heart.
And, by the way, thanks to each of you for reading this column!