May 1, 2015

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Any day is a good day to express appreciation to others

Patti LambLast month, I stopped to pick up something at a local big box store. It happened to be the day after Easter, and I noticed a woman working feverishly as I passed by the greeting card section. She was buzzing about, briskly removing Easter cards from the store and promptly replacing the inventory with Mother’s Day cards and promotional signage.

I’ve worked in both retail and marketing, and I’ve learned all about the race to consumers’ wallets for “what’s next.”

On that particular shopping trip, however, I could feel the sense of urgency with which the woman stocked the cards. Perhaps she had multiple stores to stock, and she was working under time constraints. But it was about 10 a.m., and Easter Sunday had only officially been over for 10 hours. Mother’s Day was more than a month away.

The logical part of me knows that retailers are only doing their jobs. Plus, it’s important that we are reminded to pause and honor our mothers. Otherwise, in this harried world, we might forget to send a card.

Now, it’s the first of May, and the airwaves are full of commercial reminders to acknowledge mom with candy, flowers, jewelry or brunch. (Personally, I would be elated to receive a new 9 inch by 13 inch cake pan.)

I’m swept up right along with everyone else when it comes to particular “greeting card holidays.” I confess that seeing all of the Mother’s Day items that morning prompted me to text my sisters and discuss how we would be acknowledging our mother in May.

But then I grew a bit disappointed in myself. Why do I limit my expression of appreciation of my incredible mother to one day? One day isn’t nearly enough to acknowledge the sacrifices, faith and love of my mother. I should do it every day.

The older I get, the more I learn that the truest forms of appreciation aren’t those that come as if on cue and require a designated section at the big box stores.

The truest forms of appreciation are things like these: An unprompted hug from my daughter when I help her get a knot out of her shoe. The way my son thanks me when I share silly ways to remember the proper spelling of commonly misspelled words. When my husband sends a kind text (“The meeting went well! Thanks for your prayers. I could feel them.”) A handwritten note out of the blue from my friend Pat, encouraging me with her words of faith.

Pleasantries such as these help me to stop limiting my acknowledgement of appreciation to holidays which support the greeting card industry.

I imagine that God must feel this same way. He’s thrilled when we stop to express thanks or simply say hello at unexpected times—not just on Sundays or on Easter or Christmas, but any part of any ordinary day.

A recent encounter with my neighbor illustrated this. It was an unseasonably warm day, and I rode past him as he walked to get his mail. “Great day for a bike ride,” I proclaimed as I pedaled by, feeling the sunshine on my face.

His reply made me smile. This man, a widower who raised his children alone after the untimely death of his young wife, said, “Great day for anything.”

It’s always a good time to say, “thank you” or “I love you.” Any day is a good day to express appreciation to God, to co-workers, to family or friends. No special occasion is required.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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