The Giving of Thanks

To my American friends I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. To my Canadian friends I offer my appologies for having completely missed the boat this year!

As an Irish person may I just commend and congratulate your two nations for having a Thanksgiving holiday. It’s only down-side is that it is often considered and treated as the opening to the Christmas Season, which means by St. Stephen’s Day saturation-point on festivities has been reached and it’s all over. In Ireland, we’re only getting started when we break out the turkey and ham foil parcels on day two of our twelve-day bonanza!

Let’s face it, other than saying our P’s and Q’s we’re pretty poor at giving thanks. By way of anecdotal evidence I’ll share with you a letter I received two years ago. I found it again recently and it reminded me of how great it is to give, and receive, Thanks. But first, if you’ll bear with me, I need to explain the background:

It was late at night and was travelling back from visiting my mother on the other side of the city when I realised that I was running out of petrol. I pulled off the M50 at the Red Cow Roundabout without really knowing where I should go to find a petrol station. The round-about was being metamorphosed into a spaghetti-junction at the time so I really had no clue where I was going or where I would end up. Luckily, there was an Esso station at the end of the Long Mile Road and I pulled in, probably running on fumes alone at this stage. It was then I looked down and realised that I only had my knitting bag with me – no purse, no money. I should mention, I was seven months pregnant at the time. Not the brightest thing to do! I scrambled around in the car, cursing myself at my stupidity, but the most I could scrape together were 5 pistachio shells and some lint.

Swallowing my pride I went inside and approached the man at the counter. I explained my predicament and that I had still a distance to travel and asked could he give me €10 of petrol to see me home. I’ve no doubt, but my 7 month bump played a part in him deciding to go against his company’s policy to come to my aide. I made it home safely that night but it was quite a while before I admitted to my husband what a scrape I’d got myself into. I don’t think I’ve ever told my mother.

The following week I sent this man a card with a €10 note inside and, by way of thanks, I also enclosed a €20 book token. I told him I couldn’t believe there were people like him still left in the world. Shortly after that I received the letter I mentioned. It had the most beautifully, hand-writting on it I’ve ever seen – I would cherish it for that alone. His letter is not just “A thank you for my thank you”; it is unfortunately also a commentry on the rarity of giving thanks:

Dear D_____,

First of all, please accept my sincerest apologies for taking so long to send this reply. Your card arrived at the garage, the week after you were in. It was a lovely surprise, thank you very very much. Your lovely card and very generous gift were much appreciated.

I have done the same thing for many, many people over the years, but believe it or not, you are the first person who ever returned favour.

One night, last year I found a young girl on the forecourt in tears, she had driven down from Dundalk, to visit her boyfriend in Crumlin. She had very little pertol when she left home, banking on getting money for petrol from her boyfriend; but when she arrived at her boyfriend’s house, there was nobody at home. She arrived on the forecourt with €2.00 in her pocket, and no petrol in her car, naturally she was very upset, as her mother would be worried. So I gave her €20.00, to put in the car, and she thanked me and promised that she, or her boyfriend, would return it the following week. I haven’t seen her or her boyfriend since.

Another guy, who was a regular customer here for over a year, ran short of diesel. Now this guy usually put €25.00 of diesel into his van most nights, as well as spending €20.00 most nights in the shop. He came into the shop, and said he had left his wallet at home, and needed to get to Wexford that night, could he have €50.00 of diesel on credit. I explained that the boss (having been stung once too often) did not allow this. However, I would lend him €50 if he promised to return it the following night, as €50.00 was a lot of money, and I was on a very low wage. No problem he said, and I went to the A.T.M and took €50.00 out of my account. That was 3 months ago, and I haven’t seen him, or my €50.00 since. So you can understand how nice it was to get your card, thank you very much.

If you ever find yourself over this diretion at night time, please call in, as I would like to thank you personally. I can promise you a warm welcome, and a nice cup of coffee.

Once again thank you very much for your kindness and consideration, if all the cusomers were like you, my job would be very easly indeed, and if I am a rare breed, people like you are even rarer.

So, this Thanksgiving I’m asking you to go out of your way to thank someone – be it a stranger, a relation or friend – that you know deserves to hear it said. I give thanks for Thanksgiving.

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One Response to “The Giving of Thanks”

  1. Mairin Says:

    What a nice man. And what a pity he had been stung himself for his generosity several times. I really admire him for his persistence in continuing helping people even though the odds were stacked against him that he would receive even the barest thanks. Bet you felt really glad you had sent the lovely gift of the book token as well as the money! (which was really, really nice of you!)


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