Gratitude is never extra

This morning, I prepared two different breakfasts for my three daughters. Two girls wanted a smoothie and one of them wanted avocado toast. Most days, I might insist that they decide on one breakfast and help them work through compromising. Today, I know my day is packed with grade level meetings. Preparing just what each girl wants is my proactive way of apologizing for the day to come. As I deliver the last smoothie, I hand the glass to my middle daughter, Adi. She accepts it, not saying a word. I hold onto the cup, forcing her eyes to meet mine. That’s all it takes. “Thank you,” she says as I release the cup and she brings the straw to her lips.

Early last week, a colleague at another school, texted commenting on some literacy work that was shared that day. “I sent a thank you. Do you think that’s over the top?” she asked, referring to sending a note of thanks to our coordinator that had sent the work along through an email.

“Not at all.” I responded. “We can all use a touch of kindness right now.”

Later in the week, I found myself in the parking lot of our school. Each faculty member was given a strategic time slot to enter the building to gather materials. I was shoving my bags of books into my trunk when I spotted a friend, also returning to her car. We stood in the parking lot for a long time, in the drizzling rain and keeping our proper distance, and caught up, soaking up the connection. “I wanted to email B (our principal). I know she is doing so much right now and she’s been so great. I just don’t know if it would be weird coming from me.”

“Send her a note!” I encouraged. “We all need to be seen right now. I think it would mean a lot to her.”

Yesterday, our principal forwarded a thank you letter from a parent at our school. Inspired by a teacher who took part in the March Slice of Life Challenge, she was setting out to write a thank you letter every day in April. I was touched by her words, her inspiration, and this idea of sharing our gratitude.

Right now, it feels like it’s harder to see people and acknowledge all that everyone is juggling. More than ever, I think that we could be working harder to see others and to share our gratitude. So, if you’re feeling gratitude, I encourage you to reach out and let it be known. Gratitude is never extra. It may be the thing that keeps us going.

20 thoughts on “Gratitude is never extra

  1. A simple thank you goes a long way- especially in a time like this. Also gratitude is good for your health. I know you are good at thank yous! I must say, I am very impressed you have avocados during this time. Calyn keeps saying she wants one!

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  2. Wait. Hold on. I was all set to comment and then I saw *your* comment that you can freeze avocado. THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING! Seriously. How did I live this long without knowing about this? Wow.

    Also, thank YOU for this post about gratitude. I’ve been trying to figure out how to engage my darling, wonderful, not-especially-enthusiastic about school group of 10th graders. It’s clearly going to have to be one by one (sigh – good thing it’s a small class!) and I’ve been thinking about engaging activities. I think I’m going to write them each a letter & include some stamped envelopes & paper. Then I can ask them to write a thank you letter (or two), take a picture to send to me & send them to someone who is important to them. THIS WILL WORK (well, for 8 out of 10 of them – maybe 9). I love it. I am *so* glad you wrote this. Gratitude is everything right now – for those of us who feel it and for those who receive it.

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  3. I am always grateful for your words, Jessica, and the way that you continually lift up others – your own children (such a thoughtful concession on the breakfast as “an apology for the day”), your writers, your colleagues, and all of us Slicers. Some years ago I made an encouragement folder to keep notes, cards, and even printed emails where I could go back and read them on days when I needed a boost – and then I made them for staff and we wrote letters of gratitude to each other. It makes all the difference – you’re absolutely right, it may be the thing that keeps us going.

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    1. I have a book of these letters- I haven’t added to it in years. I should dig that out. We’ve also done a similar activity at a staff meeting. It may be time to dust that off and send notes of gratitude from afar. ❤️

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  4. I love the beginning scene with your daughters. I can see Adi’s face as she takes her first sip. Perfect slice of a moment! And yes – people are working so hard right now without the face to face. I love the idea of thank you letters.

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  5. Thank you for this. I, too, was lifted up by the big message of this thread…the revelation that we can freeze avocado. Did not know that. However, we are still getting avocado during this time. Should I be worried?
    Seriously, this is a much needed post. I am trying to remind myself of all the things for which I’m grateful, but that part only helps me. I need to be thinking about sending out some of those gratitudes. I too was really happy to read that thank you letter from a parent. It reminded me that this struggle is really worthwhile. Thank you for writing this…and for being such a dedicated (and tireless) guide.

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  6. We do need to show gratitude and also to be good to each other and to ourselves. Stress sometimes makes us look ungrateful even when we are not. Thank you for reminding us to show that we are grateful and to be “proactive” in expressing it.

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  7. So true! I’ve been making an effort to send a card each day to a staff member letting them know they are appreciated. I really loved this line in your slice: Preparing just what each girl wants is my proactive way of apologizing for the day to come. Such a great way to word that thought!

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  8. “Gratitude is never extra.” I didn’t truly realize the power of gratitude until I left teaching after the first six years, and took a job as a NICU assistant two years later. It paid pennies compared to my teaching salary, but it was on the weekends and fit my family’s schedule at the time. My father was berating me for letting my degree go to waste when I told him that I received more thank-you’s from the nurses in the first six weeks of working there than I had in the six years I taught. And all I was doing was running for meds, stocking bedside drawers with supplies, cleaning warmers and isolettes, which doesn’t seem much compared to teaching and caring for children in school. I wasn’t able to continue working for minimal wages, but I will never forget how appreciated I felt.

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