My mama always told me to mind my P’s and Q’s. To follow up requests with ‘please.’ To always, always mutter the two simplest words in the English language: thank you.
After every birthday party, she would sit me down at the kitchen table and place a stack of stationery in front of me, often themed to match the Disney princess that had appeared on my cake a few days before. She would spell words out loud when I got stuck and peer over my shoulder at my penmanship as I tried to script an acceptable thank you note.
And after all those years of birthdays, the routine hasn’t changed. This past week, I sat down with a stack of gold-embellished thank you notes, thanking those for celebrating my college graduation with me. And the thank you‘s came dripping out of my pen.
There are so many instances that led me to where I am right now. Rides from my grandfather to elementary school, where he wouldn’t let me change the radio dial away from the local country station. My first grade teacher sitting me down in front of a computer, encouraging me to write my own storybook. All the walks home from school, when my mom asked me how my day was. Books read to me by my grandmother in her oversized, red armchair, when I wouldn’t let her skip even a single page. Nominations to honor societies. Continual A’s on report cards. Scholarships to go to the university that was the perfect fit for me. All the remarks of “you can do it.” Every card sent in the mail over hundreds of miles, just to say “congratulations.”
It is so easy to forget the little things. It is so easy to forget to be gracious. And patient. And to take a step back and feel blessed. When the barista at Starbucks forgets to add whipped cream to your hot chocolate. Or when the customer service rep puts you on hold for the third time. Or when the guy driving in front of you stops short for the red light and causes you to slam the brakes. It is so easy to forget that these people have troubles, too. And that the smallest gesture, the two simple words thank you, sometimes go a really long way.
The world needs more thank you notes. The world needs more people to remember their manners when making the transaction for their morning caffeine fix. More people to sing along with the cheesy songs while they wait for the operator to come back. More people to rejoice in each green light they receive on their commute home. The world needs more gratitude, more appreciation, more muttering of those two simple words.
So, for all the times that someone or something made you smile, or laugh, or forget your worries for even the briefest of seconds, remember that it is a blessing. Remember that it is a gesture of kindness; remember to mind your P’s and Q’s.