Monday, July 28, 2008

Gratitude has no expiration date: An invitation to a new blog carnival

This morning, I was moved by a letter written by someone I don't know, addressed to a team of doctors I never met.

The letter itself is poignant and well-written, but that is not what most affected me. What got to me was my own guilty realization that I have such a note to write, and it's sixteen years overdue.

My to-do list is littered with unrealized good intentions. It's less an agenda than a menu. Each morning, I try to choose well from the Activity Buffet. But, inevitably, there's stuff left on my plate at the end of the day. I pack up the leftovers with care, dutifully copying them to tomorrow's list.

A gourmet meal will grow moldy in the back of the refrigerator, given time. And that's what's happened to me. Over time, a gratitude backlog has developed.

Overall, I think an ambitious to-do list is a good thing. Our "reach should exceed our grasp", and all that. But it can also be a psychic drain; emotional clutter gaining cobwebs and casting spooky shadows in one's mind.

If I accomplished one tenth of what I list, I'd be a much better person. I owe a wedding gift to a couple who have had their second child. There is the family that moved here three years ago, whom I keep meaning to invite to welcome to the neighborhood. I have a pile of e-mails and blog comments to answer.

And then there are the thank-you-notes.

I'm not perfect about thank-you-notes for the tangible gifts and favors I receive, but I do try. I do my best to make sure my children do this, and do it well. It's mostly under control.

But, there is a pile of unacknowledged appreciation that festers in the periphery of my consciousness. Sometimes, the most heart-felt and deep thanks are the most difficult to express.

What could be acknowledged in a timely sweet note, swells by neglect into a long letter, perhaps with a few photos, to a token - and then large - and then significant gift to the person, or to a charity in that person's name... It grows from something doable to the chronic ache of failure.

It's possible to wallow in "why haven't I done it" indefinitely. But, let's not.

Instead, it's time to try something ELSE. Then new question is "If not now when?"

And the answer is: The fourth Thursday of the month. (Just like the American Thanksgiving holiday.)


A Carnival of Overdue Thanks

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Carnival of Overdue Thanks logo

Let's collect and share some accomplishment in this area, inspiring and motivating one another to make a dent in the thank-you-note pile.

Here are some rules/guidelines:

  1. Submissions can be about thanking, being thanked, or the delivery of thanks.

  2. The "object" of the gratitude should be a person, or more than one person. Not an object, not an animal, and not an idea or fictional character. (Although, it's within the rules to address the author/creator of ideas and/or characters.) The person can be living or dead.

  3. Humor is welcome, but, please, nothing sarcastic. Real thanks only, not backhanded or snarky insults. Ironic and frivolous thanks are fine. Mean and hateful are not.

  4. Sharing the gratitude with the actual personal, if possible, is optional, but encouraged. It's also okay to post about how it felt to give overdue thanks, or reactions to receiving them.

  5. Let's stipulate that there are plenty of reasons to thank G-d, and leave Him off the recipient list. While it's okay to mention being grateful to the Almighty in passing, the point of this carnival is to work on our relationships with other people, and to work up the courage to express gratitude to people.

  6. Submissions can be in the form of a thank you note, a blog post about thanking someone, a relevant picture, or anything else linkable that fits within the guidelines.

  7. What else? Ideas?

So, what do you think? Will you join in? Let's get this stuff off the back-burner and serve it up!

The first carnival's deadline for submission is Monday, August 25, 2008, with the first edition scheduled for Thursday, August 28, 2008.

15 comments, so far. Add yours now!

Post a Comment

Leora said...

Sounds like a nice idea. Of course, my first thought is, oy, we never wrote those thank you notes for my daughter's birthday party. Oh, dear.

And then, how can I do this in a pictorial fashion? I'm always trying to think of a visual way of saying things, with few words.

I like it; look forward to hearing what others have to say.

Rachel said...

What a nice idea.

It seems like a great way to get the pile of gratitude that I have weighing on my mind (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) out of my mind and into the atmosphere.

Juggling Frogs said...


You always get the message across in a few words.

Maybe a picture of the completed notes, waiting to be mailed? Or of the back of your daughter's head while she writes them?

I'm sure, whatever you decide, it will be great!


Yes! I love your image of breathing in more gratitude in the atmosphere.

In our heads, that weight is noxious, but once expressed, will help us all breathe easier.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a wonderful idea !

I had a few questions in my mind last night but visiting link to Blog Carnival and reading the couple of comments above this morning made things more clear-er


Anonymous said...

That sounds like a great idea. Keeps us informed.

The Five + of Us said...

Great idea. Posted it.


Anonymous said...

Perfect -- I borrowed $5.00 from someone many, many years ago and never returned it. And think about it A LOT...

So now I can figure out a way to show gratitude...and it's the perfect time to start as we inch day by day closer to the Yamim Noraim.

Count me in!!

Phyllis Sommer said...

i like it! great idea.

count me in too....

Batya said...

sounds great
Actually The Blog Challenge meme I did included bloggers I like to thank for their help.

Ariella's blog said...

If you want a piece on writing formal "Thank you" notes, as well, I have an article on my site on the subject that I can link to.

SJ said...

read my blog. XD

Juggling Frogs said...


Wonderful! I'm looking forward to your submission.


I hope so!


Thanks for spreading the word.


Great! That's exactly it. These things weigh us down. If we can find some way to release them, it makes such a difference.

Also, we influence one another. When reading about others who have done something I'm trying to do, it motivates me and bolsters my resolve.

With the carnival, I'm looking for motivation and a kick in the pants. (Having a deadline helps. too.)

Rabbi Phyllis,

Yay! Welcome aboard!

Will yours be in prose or haiku? LOL


Thanks, I'll check it out.


Can you send the link? Or submit through the carnival's website (quick and easy) here:

Carnival Submission Page

SJ/Secular Jew,

Um, why?

ZM said...

Aha! I sat down and wrote a letter of thanks to the farm that took the Eldest for camp. I bullied them (politely) into it, and it all worked out splendidly.

Oh, and that included the part where he dug for (non-Red Wiggler) worms. Splendid things, worms. And toads. And sorrel, freshly picked and offered to you by an impeccably filthy hand.

Yep, that was a letter that needed writing. I posted it tonight, just because, well, otherwise?

um, yeah.

Anonymous said...

I just discovered that you've returned to blogging. I cannot tell you how delighted I am to find you online again.

So ... I missed the August Carnival, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to post in September.

Thank you for reminding me that the backlog doesn't have to stay backlogged. I like your approach for digging out of the from under the heap. I'm full of good intentions and forgetful, so I'm going to push myself to remember to post at the end of September.

Anonymous said...

I’d sweetie to talk with that too!

If you liked this article, congratulations! You have great taste. Please brew yourself a cup of coffee.
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