Dec 11, 2007

Why is Thank You So Inadequate

My dad informed me at 10 pm last night that his buddies from the Disabled Veterans of America need the veteran angel tree presents Wednesday. We get two every year. Since we have a niece going to school and staying with us this year, we got three. So tonight off we go to get the gifts they requested which are usually simple everyday kind of things. I love doing this particular holiday tradition.

As I was driving in today, I was discussing with myself (yes, I talk and answer myself, ha) how to sign the accompanying Christmas card. Thank you just seems so inadequate. I mean what is thank you to someone who laid their life on the line for you and was permanently wounded in the process. How can those words mean anything? Aren't there deeper words that would more completely convey how you feel? What are they and how do I find them?

Are they in a dictionary, a therasus? Is the word gratitude too grandiose? Do I use a word too airly, too formal, too common?

Then I started laughing, right out loud. Only a writer would struggle so to find that perfect word that describes that perfect feeling. Only a writer would agonize over such perfection.

Every year my office plays dirty santa for our Christmas party (or should that be its??) and since our soldiers have been at war at Christmas, I have taken that money and sent it to them. And most of these like Treats for Troops or Operation Gratitude have posted letters back from the troops. They all seem to say the same thing. That the simple thank you, I'm praying for you, be safe, take care, I'll check on your family, mean the most to them.

There's no need to search for a perfect word or phrase. There is power in thank you. In just the simple act of giving you say how much you care.

This all related back to our Sunday School lesson where our teacher had pictures of our Savior and played a song and had us think on all those things He did, what seem to touch us that day. I fixated on His tender bathing of His disciples' feet. So a simple act, so full of example, love, humbleness and perfect sweetness.

The simpliest acts are the most powerful, perhaps so are the simpliest words. As writers we enjoy (and bemoan) our search for the perfect word only to find the simple ones really are the best ones.


  1. I am intrigued by "Dirty Santa". The images it conjures up in this grandmotherly, seminary-teaching mind aren't lurid, but I do wonder. Is it a card game?

  2. I wanted to comment on your last paragraph, too, and say yea, verily. One thing that has been hard for me is to use a two syllable word instead of a four syllable one. It's not that I like to show off my vocabulary, I just love words. However, woman-hater is really a stronger word than misogynist.

  3. It's a game you play where everyone brings one gift usually about 20 bucks wrapped to a party. At the party, everyone takes a number and number one starts off by choosing the gift and opening it. Number two can "steal" the gift or get a new one and on down the line. My first two or three times it was fun; now, it's boring.

  4. And since you are bored you don't go, but use the money you would normally spend on the office gift to buy something for the troops. Did I figure that out right? G'donya!

    I have mixed feelings about that game. How fun for me it gets depends on how many are playing or if I get something I don't want, and of course, nobody steals it from me. Or how much the recipient likes the gift I brought. I like small groups and good presents. But the real decider is my own attitude. If I choose to get excited over somebody else's gift, or delight, then I can have fun no matter what. And let me assure you, having fun is much more -- fun!

    My husband is a veteran of WWII, (when he piloted a B-24, got shot down, crashed in Holland, and for nearly a year lived under guard in Germany) of Korea,when he got reca lled and spent a year in Iceland) and served a year in Vietnam. Sometimes on Veteran's Day, he gets a little recognition, but for the most part even his family forgets he served. He says he likes the recognition, but mostly because of what it does for the one who gives it.

    So, if you think to express thanks, by all means do it. The words really don't mean as much as the act. I'm currently trying to develop the habit of just saying 'thank you' when I receive a compliment about anything -- even when I don't feel deserving -- because otherwise I'm demeaning the giver's discernment. (How's that for using big instead of simple words?) And now I'm breaking my vows to only make a 'short' comment. Let me start all over.

    Thanks, Terri, for championing the simple words and things.


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