A Thank You is Worth a Thousand Kisses

by Emily Kemme

I received a lovely written thank you note from my professor friend earlier this week, saying how much they appreciated dinner last Saturday night.  For the weary travelers they were, it fit the bill.

I know the lineup of their lives right now, and it would buckle most people’s backs. Nevertheless, my friend took the time to write a note the very next day.  I know what you’re thinking; running through your mind is, “Oh no. . .she’s winding up for a lecture.”  I am, and yet, I’m not.  There is no one in my circle of friends and acquaintances whose schedules aren’t eating them up.  All of us are incredibly busy; that’s the nature of existence in today’s world. But, the smallest interconnections between us still count for something, whether we communicate via email, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media, or if it’s simply a brief nod of the head and smile of acknowledgment when we encounter one another.

Theorists claim that as the myriad methods of wireless communication threaten to engulf us, as our adherence to machines deepens our isolation, we will lose our ability to recognize and interpret human behavior.  They posit that we are destined to become more and more like the inanimate computers we depend on.

I tend to disagree.  With the advent of smart phones, I can easily stay in touch with my two teenagers, one of who is 1000 miles away at college.  I remember that when I left for college, I rarely called home.  For one thing, it was too expensive. Even though I was only 50 miles away, a call home was “long distance.” Conversations were brief and to the point:  “Are you ok? Studying hard?”  To which I would always reassure them with a yes.  Today, my kids text me all day long and into the night.  They “speak” of meaningful issues in their lives.  I know when they have a test coming up.  I know how they’re feeling that day, and often, they’ll text me immediately after they’ve finished the exam.  The connection is there, no matter where we are in the world.

I remember my Grandma Anne always finishing up a phone call with me by saying, “Thank you for calling.”  It was a guarantee.  I can’t recall a time when she didn’t. Back then, it didn’t mean much to me, because the methods of communication were so limited.  All there was to speak with her was a telephone.  For me, it was a rote phrase.

I remember the day at the law firm when the newfangled fax machine was installed. Very few lawyers had them at the time, but it changed the practice of law in the blink of an eye. What used to take several days to mail and be received by opposing council now took seconds; there were days when the back-and-forth of faxed letters between lawyers became a blur and made our heads spin.  That was years ago, back in the late ’80’s.  I hate to sound like my parents, and say, “times have changed,” but they have.  And I believe they’ve changed in a positive way.

Yes, all of our innovative gadgets make the world go a lot faster.  However, I have greater communication with my children than my parents had with me.  It’s quick and easy for my family to give me their GPS location via a fast text; in fact, we require it of our high school-aged daughter.  This greatly alleviates the tension and worry of not knowing where they are.  Even our son in college lets us know where he is, for the most part.  I keep in closer contact with friends through email and Facebook; in fact, my 30 year high school reunion was created through use of a Facebook group, which turned out to be relatively simple.  Doing business is faster and more efficient with all of the technology we have within our grasp.

So, why does a thank you note (either written, or emailed) make me smile?  It’s just one more layer of connection, one realization that my efforts weren’t fruitless or expected, and that, even as busy as we all are, we take time to acknowledge those around us.  It’s a recognition that we are not turning into machines.

And, she asked for the recipes for my dinner.

If you’d like, check out my recipes for Honey Barbecue Baked Salmon and White Bean and Carrot “Slaw” with Mixed Greens.  And Crispy Lemon Pudding for dessert.

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1 comment

Robert Kahn February 22, 2011 - 11:14 am

Really enjoyed your blog today, the philosophy sounds familiar.

always do today what you can, tomorrow may be too busy to remember today.


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