Friday, December 23, 2011

The Gift of Thanks

By Laura Bradford

While I know the official holiday for being thankful took place about four weeks ago, I've decided to take a do-over and merge it with a holiday more often noted for new starts. 

Don't get me wrong, when I see the ball making its way down the pole in Times Square each year, I find myself considering the notion of a "New Year/New Me" just like everyone else. I could certainly stand to drop about 10 pounds and get in better overall shape. And maybe in 2012, I'll do just that. But before I look forward, I also like to look back. You know, to see where I succeeded and where I failed. Where I improved and where I need to do better.

I also like to whip out my stationery and write the people who made a difference in my life throughout the year. Sometimes, the difference was more indirect, like a teacher who has been particularly good with one of the girls. Sometimes, the difference is something I experienced first  hand--like my Aunt Mary who never ends an email or a phone call without saying, "I love you."

The notion of a "thanks for who you are/what you do" letter started when I was young. At that time, it took the form of the more traditional "thanks for the present" acknowledgement I was expected to write after every birthday or Christmas. But as I got older, I began to see the things people do that go far beyond the normal gift wrapped affair.

I wrote my first extensive "thanks for who you are/what you do" letter to my high school history teacher, Mr. Filo. I gave it to him the morning of graduation. He was passionate about teaching and, in turn, had made me passionate about a subject I'd had little to no interest in prior to my time in his classroom. I wrote that letter because I wanted him to know that his work, his efforts had meant something to me. To this day, I'm glad I gave him that letter. I'm glad I said, "thanks." I'm glad I said, "you made a difference in my life."  Because when Mr. Filo died of a massive heart attack two weeks later, he knew he was valued. He knew he'd made a difference.

For a long time, I was good about letters like that. Until life got busy--first with kids, and then a host of assorted stuff that made the concept of putting off 'til tomorrow way too easy.

So I'm getting back to that now. Call it a resolution, if you will. Call it a long overdue case of manners. Call it my holiday mix-up. Regardless, I'm going to start

2011 has been a wild year, full of ups and downs the likes of which probably should have come with some sort of warning. But the ride was made easier by a handful of people who deserve a "thanks for who you are/what you do." Each one made a difference in my life, and for that I am grateful.

*Our own Maggie Barbieri--for humoring me with an occasional lunch outing. Moving (yet again) at this point in life is tough. But having someone be open to a new face has made the transition a bit easier. Thanks, Maggie!

*My friend, Lynn C--for, well, being a loyal, steadfast, and true friend. I've learned so many things from this woman...not the least of which is courage and persistence.

*My friend, Lynn D--for teaching me about basic kindness. Not sure what I did to have God put this angel in my path but I am truly blessed.

*The aforementioned Aunt Mary--for loving me unconditionally. There is no greater gift.

*My readers (Dru Ann, Aimee, Carol S, Mary H, and so many others)--for helping turn my childhood dream into a reality and for becoming my friends in the process. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

So here's to 2012. May it be an extra special year for all of us--a year in which we laugh often, love unconditionally, and take a moment to thank those who make our world brighter!



  1. I had a friend in high school that gave me a New Years card. She, like you, wanted to mix up the holidays just a tad. And I loved her for it.

    I'm not sure my contribution to our friendship makes up for all the unwavering support I get from you, but you need to know how much your friendship means. Close or long distance.

    Here's to 2012.

  2. I am grateful your childhood dream came true because without it having happened I would not have had the chance to get to be your friend. I know that I am truly better for knowing you.

  3. I'm so glad you were able to achieve your dream and I especially liked being there when you got your cherished book autographed by MHC, and finally I enjoy our "deadline" lunches. You are a remarkable person and 2012 is going to be a banner year for you.

  4. I give thanks for you, too, Laura! It has been so much fun getting to know you and spend time with you. You have this incredible knack of making me feel normal in the outside world after the inordinate number of hours I spend alone in my attic. Love you! Maggie