Driving back from my son’s graduation party last year, we were literally aglow with how well the night went. Our 18 year old was able to express his gratitude for our community and his thankfulness for the wonderful people we know. We know we’re blessed. After a moment of silence, though, he said, “I wonder why so and so wasn’t there. They said they would be.” Even though we had a pile of people show up, he did what so many of us do: notice who wasn’t there.
I’m sure there were any number of legitimate reasons why someone couldn’t come to that party or other events we all participate in, but I know we under-estimate our mere presence. I know and believe this because of the myriad times I or my family or friends show up somewhere and the hosts greets us so thankfully. Now, we don’t add much to any party, trust me, but we all communicate something when we show up and that is that we care. We give a rip. You’re important. I took time out of my day for you.
Since I’m a happy teacher of middle and high schoolers, I receive invitations to games and parties and recitals. I make sure I get to all that I can because it says something I want to say: you have worth to me. And no matter what people say about teenagers, I know they’re just as interested in having people they like come watch them perform or be a part of their celebration.
When a friend did some sewing for my daughter lately, I made her a scone she just loves. My daughter thought that she’d stay home while I dropped it off. Uh, no. Not happening. If you’re grateful for her help, she needs to see your thankful face. She went. When a friend hinted that she wanted some of my baking, I arrived at her job with cupcakes. Her face was all the thanks I needed.
So this year on my birthday, I’m going to a lovely little new cafe and piano bar because one of my students is playing. The last time I went, the expression on his face was thanks enough, but before long, he was playing a song he knows I like. Sweet kid. Other than the applause he received from his grateful listeners, we all communicated something else: you’re worth the trip.