When I was a tad, like most of us, I also heard the secret of the magic words which almost always works. ‘Please‘ and ‘Thank You‘ always on top of her list and I remember, mom would theatrically demonstrate to us how the toughest hearts could melt when you speak the words earnestly, humbly and not to forget politely.
She would often have us experiment with it around dad who usually liked to be in control.
“Dad, I need twenty bucks for the ice-cream, would you please give it to me now?” His expressions would change with the extra emphasis on the ‘please’ then the ‘now’ and added sweetness to the voice tonality as advised by mum. We would not only pocket the reward but also get a pat on our back when we turned to say, “Thank You Dad” in our syrupy voice and wide innocent eyes. But behind the fun and drama we genuinely felt gratitude for all the kindness and love our parents showed us.
Mom would often quote the words of William Arthur Ward, “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you? ”
We never missed the ‘thank-you’ prayer while eating our meals and so it has now become a part of us. It is difficult to be miserable and hopeless when you have things to be thankful for.
It is different these days; the magic words do not come to the children easily. The teenage kids of mine often skip the part of requesting and thanking, taking almost everything for granted because we never showed them that life could be otherwise as well. We, the new age parents are afraid to say a firm no to our children. When someday I nudge them about the ingratitude, they say, “we love you, isn’t that enough? These are mere formalities mom and we don’t need that between us.” However, the words are indeed more than just courtesies. I often thank my kids for making my life so special. Replacing a command to a request by saying a polite “please” often puts all at ease and has worked for me.
I feel it is important to acknowledge the affection you receive from others. Thanking is important to let them know that they are not unnoticed and their effort for you matters. ‘Please’ is an important word too because it gives some freedom of choice and takes the edge away, it gives out the message that you value the favour being given to you. However, there needn’t be an expectation of the same from the other because it is not about massaging the ego; it is more about the overwhelming gratitude and regard you feel within.
I remember on one of the ‘Thanksgiving Dinner’ my uncle narrated a fable to us. It was about a special kind of friendship between a little boy and a tree. The story goes like this. “There was a huge oak tree in the woods, a little boy used to play there, he would climb up and down the tree and the tree loved the chortles of this lad. He would then sleep in its shade and the tree would feel overwhelming love for him. As he grew up his visits became less and the tree asked him, “Why do you not play with me anymore?” and the boy replied, “I have to go to school and pay the fees and I need the money so I go in the morning for distributing the newspaper and in the evening I work in the store. The tree said, “Boy, don’t you worry, cut away a few branches of mine and sell them, you will have enough money and then come and play with me. The boy followed his instructions and enjoyed his time swinging and jumping around the oak tree with his friends.
Time flew and he kept chopping off its branches for his survival. The tree was glad to have him around for this exchange. Soon, a time came when the boy wanted to marry the love of his life and settle down, he came to the tree and said, I want to build a home, the trunk was all that remained of the tree but he agreed to give it to him lovingly. The log was chopped off, nothing but a barren land remained.
Years, later the boy was visiting the land where his tree-friend lived. He sat there in the scorching heat of the sun and a tear dropped on the ground and a single word emerged like a prayer from the depth of his heart and it was, “Thanks”.
The magic word still works, feel it before you say it. Happy Thanksgiving Friends!
*Published originally For 123GreetingsCom by me as an alias of Editor Bob.