Written By: Molly Kavanaugh
The neighbor who lends a snow blower.
The reliable and friendly dog walker.
The hair stylist always willing to listen.
The co-worker who shares a vegetable harvest.
These men and women make our lives easier and happier. We appreciate them and are grateful for all the small ways they make a big difference in our lives.
When it comes to gift giving, we are under no obligation to buy them a present, and in many cases they are not expecting one.
But we want to give them a gift. We want to show our gratitude.
Why Gratitude is Good for Us
Expressing gratitude is good for our health, both physical and mental. Studies show that gratitude lessens symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improves sleep and cardiac health.
One of the best things about expressing gratitude – it makes both the giver and the receiver feel good. (Think back to how you felt when you gave or received an unexpected “thank you” gift or words of appreciation.)
And giving can be contagious. A study by James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously toward other people.
“As a result,” they write, “each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.”
How to Show our Gratitude
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it,” inspirational writer William Arthur Ward reminds us.
So let’s start giving gifts of gratitude.
First, make a list of people you want to thank this holiday, including those who have been paid for their services and those who have just been extra kind to you.
Remember that some service providers and other professionals are not allowed to accept a gift, or only one of nominal value. Consider a thank you card or note, to both the person and the supervisor, or a batch of homemade cookies or candy.
Have you been generous with tips or other gifts during the year? For instance, Kendal at Oberlin does not allow residents to tip employees, but they are encouraged to contribute to a holiday fund that is distributed among staff.
If you have tipped all along, search the Internet for a holiday tipping guide like this one from CNN Money.
Many hourly employees, such as your favorite café server or house cleaner, would most likely appreciate a generous year-end monetary gift, or gift card, rather than a scarf, candle or the like.
Depending on the person and service, a rave review on Facebook or other social media, might also be appreciated, especially if the person is self-employed.
And remember, small and simple is always a good way to show your appreciation. Write a note acknowledging their kindness and its impact on you. Give them a call; stop by their house with a bottle of wine or fruit basket. Most of all, tell them you are grateful for their presence in your life.
Written By: Molly Kavanaugh