Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thank You: The Ripple Effect

Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and
Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: just a flash and it is
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and
Bearing hope and joy and comfort on each splashing,
dashing wave
Till you wouldn’t believe the volume of the one kind
word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: in a minute you forget;
But there’s gladness still a-swelling, and there’s joy
a-circling yet,
And you’ve rolled a wave of comfort whose sweet music can
be heard
Over miles and miles of water just by dropping on kind

~James W. Foley

Monday evening I sat down to write and discovered a writer’s worst nightmare: I didn’t have anything to say. Though I was in a happy mood, I couldn’t think of a single good deed or act of kindness observed from the day’s events. Then I remembered the first thirty minutes of the morning. I arrived at work and checked to find out who were those responsible for a wonderfully elaborate, decorative, and entertaining dinner party/baby shower we had all attended on Friday night. I sat down to shoot off an email to let them know of my appreciation, but I was too late. One of the hostesses, “party-planner Jenny,” who had worked many hours to plan and execute the affair, beat us to the keyboard: “Thanks for making Friday night and Kim's baby shower so wonderful. I thank you each for your contribution to the party, for your participation and for your good cheer. It really was an extra beautiful party and fun had by all. We are a great team.”

I thought Jenny had dedicated enough of her time to planning this event that we should not only give her thanks, but maybe even an extra day off. Here she was first thing Monday morning thanking the guests, most of us who simply brought a dish to share. I hurried to get a word in: “I sincerely appreciate all of your work to provide a wonderful evening on Friday night for Kim's shower. I enjoyed celebrating the pending arrival, and I especially appreciated a chance to get out and to be in the company of so many interesting and wonderful people in our department. Thanks for your generosity!”

Minutes later, Alice, the gracious provider of a museum-quality venue (and who undoubtedly the one who stayed up late cleaning up after we went home), added her words: “The party wouldn't have been what it was without all your help! What a great combination...yummy food, fab flowers, sweet decorations, delish desserts, great games, pretty cute and educational presents, and good old-fashioned fun. We missed those that couldn't come and appreciate their additions, too.” Within one hour of the week starting, we were in the midst of a “thank you shower,” and it was fun!

The notes of gratitude continued from Jacquie: “My sincerest thanks to the organizers of the event...and what an event it was!” Then Margo chimed in: “Thanks to YOU Alice for the great hosting - your house is lovely and it felt like dinner at a fine restaurant - thanks to all for such great food. Thanks also to Sandra for organizing the fun games (no thanks to Susan for being such a trivia whiz!) and special thanks to Kim for giving us such a fun reason to celebrate!”

While studying at John Robert Powers finishing school as a teenager, I was taught that we should always send thank you notes within twenty-four hours of receiving a gift or after having been hosted for a meal in someone’s home. I have procrastinated my expressions of gratitude many times in the past due my inability to slow down in the fast lane of life. These ladies have all taught me, and continue to remind me, of the kind deeds that can have a ripple effect like the pebble in the water. Putting a party together was their gift to me; the ripples of good will continue in our department as we share in the spirit of thanks.

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