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Thank You Letters MAG
"Cara, do you have those thank-you letters in the mail yet?" my mom subtly reminded me.
"I would havebeen done by now but this Wite*Out won't dry," I replied. I hadprocrastinated, and it was several weeks after my ninth birthday, but after a fewdrafts, my first thank-you letters were mailed to relatives. Since that day, I'vewritten many more letters with less procrastination and Wite*Out. I had forgottenthe ritual until recently, when I realized again the significance of thosethank-you letters.
"Cara, you should write a thank-you letter to yourgrandparents for coming to your sixteenth birthday," my mom nagged. Icomplained for a few minutes and then complied, and in less time than I'd spentcomplaining, it was in the mail. A few weeks later, my grandma called my mom andmentioned how much she appreciated my letter. I thought that if I spent fourminutes every day making people smile, imagine what I could accomplish just bysaying "Thank you."
Then I realized I have a lot more to bethankful for than birthday gifts from grandparents. Gratitude is one of the mostpowerful values that we often overlook. Being thankful can lead to joy and loveand compassion and forgiveness, as well as an appreciation for all we have. Ihave many people, places and things I sometimes take for granted, but hopefullysomeday I will be able to show my gratitude.
If I were to list all those Iowe thanks to, I would probably kill a dozen trees. So many have taught me all Iknow today - from how to write my name to how to live my life, and have beenloving and supportive through everything in between. My teachers have taught mehow to read and how to add, and the consequences of procrastination. They havemodeled what it looks like to make a difference, and taught me how to celebrateothers' differences. My friends have taught me how to hook markers end to end,how to ride a bike with no hands, how to dance with a guy, and how to hug. Theyhave taught me to laugh and to cry and to love and to lose. They have listened tomy dumbest moments, probably several times; they have cared in my darkestmoments, and they have showed me the value of those dark moments.
I havelearned to find the good in all situations. My parents have taught me how to tiemy shoes and how to drive a car. They have taught me about gratitude, love andjoy, and how to apply these in my life. They have sacrificed so much for me andloved me unconditionally. And to God, I owe the most because He has given meeverything I have to be grateful for, even appreciation for where I live afterthe 2001 terrorist attacks.
Dale Dauten wrote in his syndicated column,"Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody's hand and squeezeit, while there's time." He was referring to wisdom that comes fromexperience; appreciation develops when one loses a part of what they once had.The gratitude I have for the places I live has been magnified in the last yearbecause I realize what it would be like without these places. America, as awhole, developed a lot of appreciation on 9/11 when our lives were shaken and ourfreedoms, once taken for granted, were jeopardized. We felt the fear othercountries experience on a much greater scale.
Last summer I took a classin another school and realized how great my school is. Not only is it honored foracademic excellence, sports and extra-curricular activities that often rank highin our state, but the environment is very loving. I'm not a big fan of change,and I have learned to appreciate the time I spend at school and at home. When Igo on trips, I usually get homesick since home is my favorite place. I live on abeautiful lake and love boating, ice skating and being around my family.
I am not capable of fully appreciating all that I have, because I haverarely lacked what I need. Helen Keller said, "Instead of comparing our lotwith that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it withthe lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we areamong the privileged." I have it good, to say the least.
There arestarving people not only in Africa, but in my own city. I have always had clotheson my back and food on my table and all other pleasures money can bring, forwhich I am grateful. But money isn't everything. I have been blessed withacademic talents as well as athletic and musical abilities. I am so thankful forall these things, and plan to use them to better the world.
But there isone thing I truly do appreciate. I have my life and am healthy, and for this I ammore thankful than anything else. I am a cancer survivor and have climbed back tothe top as a cross-country runner. I have this life still, and I plan to live itto its fullest. I learned to make sure I have been truly grateful for all I havebefore it is too late.
The two special words "thank you" canstart a chain of love that brings joy to many people. Even in having little, onecan be grateful for what he or she does have. Those thank-you letters have madeall the difference in my life, for I have so much to be grateful for.