Not freaking out. For once.

#487 on the List of Ways to Improve

I am not going to write about the baby today. But first I will tell you that I have a pregnancy weight-centric post up at Parenting. Mmm, ice cream.

I got an email yesterday from someone thanking me for fulfilling my [minor] responsibilities on the church committee. The thanks was so profuse it was a little embarrassing. Or, it would be if it wasn't completely real. You know how some people thank you because they think it's getting them something? Well this person thanks you because he means it. He's always like that, in emails and during the meetings, and not just to me. He thanks everyone. Not just thanks, he appreciates everyone. He makes sure to acknowledge what each person is contributing and appreciates them. Publicly.

Not for the first time I realized I appreciated his appreciation.

But first I have to go through my inner monologue of suspicion, cynicism and motivation questioning. Why is he so NICE? I'm not proud of that. I don't know why I have such a hard time accepting that there ARE genuine people who genuinely appreciate.

I have some other friends (one of whom I think reads this website, gak) who are good at the appreciation thing. Right before Christmas I realized I hadn't made the treats I usually make and pack in little gift boxes for gifting out to all the random yet important people around us. I frantically threw some fudge together and then, realizing that you do not simply "throw fudge together" I frantically mixed up a batch of fake no-skills-required fudge and added that my gift boxes. A few days after passing them out I got a message on my phone (seriously people, my phone is never on, sorry!) telling me I was no less than Ina Garten herself (who's YOUR favorite Food Network chef?!) and that was the BEST FUDGE EVER and oh man, the MARSHMALLOWS (told you this was fake fudge) and the WALNUTS and they swallowed the pieces whole, they were THAT GOOD. It was totally embarrassing. I mean, FAKE FUDGE. So not worth the accolades. And yet, these are people who thank you with complete sincerity. A cold cynical person like myself will find them a bit off and wonder, much like Bing Crosby, what their angle is. But they don't have angles. At that moment in time my fudge WAS the best fudge ever.

Oh, and then? A few church committee meetings ago I said something stupid that someone smart immediately had to pick apart. It was the equivalent of getting up the nerve to raise your hand in your 400-level comparative lit class and saying something that is only half right. As I was getting schooled by the smart person, I consoled myself by thinking that at least I raised my hand, I never raise my hand, no one else was raising their hands. During the break the man who emailed me today said something like, "I bet you'll remember THAT from now on!" and I said something like, "Or I'll just keep my mouth shut" and he laughed like I had said something hilarious and WOW that made me feel so much better. I know, I might be making him sound kind of weird and irritating, but in that moment I felt appreciated for not being a snotty know-it-all (at least not on my committee!) and for having a sense of humor. I felt like he got me. In a moment when I really wanted to be gotten.

I want to be like them. I want to be the kind of person who is humble enough, secure enough and sincere and genuine enough to express appreciation the way they do. Sure, I know how when the occasion obviously calls for it. I think I've picked out some pretty swell hostess gifts, I've written glowing letters, and I am an excellent hugger. But I tend to keep my mouth shut about the every day stuff. I'm thankful in my head, but I often miss the moment to say something out loud. Plus, there's just something suspicious about people so free with compliments and enthusiasm and thanks. I wonder if I'm comparing my lack of generosity to their endless wells of it, and the resulting grouchy feeling keeps me from trying it out.

But that email yesterday challenged me. So yesterday I told my bagger at the grocery store how much I appreciated her bagging skills. The bread was not smushed. The eggs were safe. The chips were on top. No bag was impossible to carry. And we all remember how uptight I am about bagging, right? I said, "Thanks for bagging everything so well," or something equally dorky and she looked at me like I was that dorky and said, "Thanks". But maybe she went home tonight and told her boyfriend about all the annoying uptight people at the store today, oh, except for that one lady with the baby who thanked her for not cracking the eggs like DUH doesn't EVERYONE know that?



I've known a couple people in my life who were just so nice and such good listeners. One in particular- I have been trying to listen as well as she did. I always feel like it looks like I am thinking about something else when people are talking to me.


My mother's best friend, who is like a second mother to me, is like that. So genuinely happy and grateful for everything in her life. It's admirable and it definitely makes me feel a bit ashamed of my own cynicism.

Also, I bet the bagger appreciated your comment. Especially if she did a good job, because that means she actually thought about what she was doing, and probably likes it when people notice.


Oh Food Network, how I love thee! My favorite is probably Paula Deen or Sandra Lee b/c they are both so real. They don't cook ridiculous meals that noone would prepare for dumb occassions like good friends sisters cousins golden birthday eve! Plus Paula shares my love of butter. Mmmmmmm. And the bagger totally loved your comment, I promise she had a better day after you checked out. Yeah you for doing something nice for someone, I rarely do but always wish I had. Oh and for the record, I cannot stand the knowitall scriptures quoters who always correct my analysis!

Kate P

I would totally eat at Ina Garten's house. (And yours too, apparently.) Her parties are probably awesome.

The first thing I thought when you said you thanked the grocery bagger is that I do that, too--because I always saw my MOM doing it. Your son might not be old enough to pick up on it, but you're a good influence on him. :)

(BTW in solidarity with your pregnancy-weight-thing, as classes are wrapping up I'm taking up the lose-the-grad-school-ten challenge again at WeightLossWars. Logged in exercise last night, will weigh myself tomorrow when I go to my parents'. *makes sign of the cross*)


I've gotta jump on the food network bandwagon - I love Paula & Giada.

I know Giada can be a little annoying with her perfect body and big-headedness, but I have tried several of her recipes and LOVED every one.
:) Becky


I'm from New York, so cold and cynical happen to be my niche. I don't really ever hug, but I write a hell of a thank you note and put together some fabulous baskets. I'm totally with you on saying thank you, the random important people are oft overlooked.

I have kind of learned to hate the Food Network. It's supposed to be in Julia Child's tradition of aspirational food, of elegant being easy and that maybe reaching beyond the Velveeta is worth the effort. I watch for Ina, Charm City Cakes and vintage Bourdain. Then again, I'm an elitist food snob.

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