It seems fitting that we should take a moment now to consider what it means to be thankful to someone, and similarly, how to deliver that thanks.
“Thank you” as a phrase is something we’re taught by our parents quite early on, isn’t it? We’re told over and over to say thanks to people who give us something or do something for us. And it’s one of the first phrases we’re taught when learning a foreign language in school.
Merci. Gracias. Grazie. Danke. Arigato. Spasibo.
The idea of being grateful, and expressing that gratefulness to someone else, is one of the most important and cherished ideas of our society.
But it’s more than just saying the words. It’s about an expression of thought that conveys to someone else that you acknowledge what they’ve done, understand it, and appreciate it. Which means you can express “Thank you” without ever saying those words.
This is one of my favorite examples:
“Your kind note of to-day is received. In our respective parts yesterday, you could not have been excused to make a short address, nor I a long one. I am pleased to know that, in your judgment, the little I did say was not entirely a failure. Of course I knew Mr. Everett would not fail; and yet, while the whole discourse was eminently satisfactory, and will be of great value, there were passages in it which transcended my expectation. The point made against the theory of the general government being only an agency, whose principals are the States, was new to me, and, as I think, is one of the best arguments for the national supremacy. The tribute to our noble women for their angel-ministering to the suffering soldiers, surpasses, in its way, as do the subjects of it, whatever has gone before.”
The above letter was from Pres. Abraham Lincoln in response to Edward Everett. Mr. Everett was the Governor of Massachusetts and a U.S. Senator, and ardent supporter of the Union during the Civil War. At the dedication of Gettysburg, Everett was the featured speaker and spoke for nearly two hours. He was followed by Lincoln who delivered his now-famous Gettysburg Address which lasted just minutes. Everett was so moved, he wrote to Lincoln, “I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”
President Lincoln wrote this letter just a week before Thanksgiving; the first official Thanksgiving, as a matter of fact. It was in October of 1863 that Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November forthcoming, and each year hence, to be a day of thanks and praise.
Today, we look back on Lincoln as one of the greatest presidents our country has ever known, and it is often his leadership and vision that is cited. Take a moment though to read through some of his personal letters and you will come away stunned at the man’s intellect and compassion, his grace and humility.
And while he could have simply replied, “Thank you” to Mr. Everett, he chose to write a letter which took longer to pen than the speech he gave, and in so doing, deliver an incredibly powerful message of gratefulness to Everett.
Of course I knew Mr. Everett would not fail.
Can you imagine what impact those words had on Everett? What impact they would have had on you?
And note how Lincoln said virtually nothing about himself or his own remarks, other than to suggest that his brevity was no better or worse than Everett’s length. Instead, he spoke entirely of Everett’s remarks and specifically pointed out comments which resonated.
He expressed gratitude, praise, and even humbleness, when he said, “I am pleased to know that, in your judgment, the little I did say was not entirely a failure.”
This letter is a perfect example of what it means to say “Thank you” in a way that goes beyond the words you use, and speaks to the impact that has on someone else. Through his depth of understanding and appreciation, Lincoln showed Senator Everett how much he, and his support during their struggles, meant to the President.
That was the inspiration for our Thanksgiving Special this year – the idea that you can show your family how much they mean to you. You can say “Thank you” by creating a new online business that puts more food on the table for everyone.
That’s what SBI! is all about, and I invite you to start today.