Small Thanks, Big Change Project

An idea started peculating in my brain on Christmas morning.  Michael was in the hospital but doing well, and I had taken the boys to visit.  We stopped in the cafeteria first, everyone hungry after an early morning of finding what Santa left under the tree.  I was very thankful for the hot food and warm smiles of the staff.  I didn’t hear one bit of grumbling about being there on Christmas morning.

I was also trying not to grumble- my boys were happy, and my husband was on the mend, but it wasn’t where I wanted to be.  It probably wasn’t where they wanted to be either- but thinking on it more, I’d bet that at least a few of them volunteered so those with young kids could be home.

As I let the boys pick their food, including a request from Drew to see if they could put chocolate chips in the pancakes (and yes, they found some), I wanted to tell them thank you for being there and being open, for serving hot food, and for doing it with smiles.  (I know it was a management decision to be open with full menu for staff and patient families, but you never would have known it wasn’t their choice.)  I wanted to tell them that on a morning like that, it meant the world to have my boys smile over the buffet of choices, and the time saved from cooking to instead be with Michael.

But I don’t do that.  I save words for things I think, not things I feel.  Sometimes I put them here- but that’s pushing it.  To be vulnerable enough to tell someone how much their simple actions meant?  Hmmm…. well, it was Christmas morning, a morning for miracles.  So as we paid, I looked the cashier in the eye and told her that though I knew she’d rather be somewhere else, it meant a lot to people like us, and thanked her for the cheery attitudes.  She did seem a bit uncomfortable, but sometimes that’s a good thing.

If we think about it, there are lots of small things that are done for us by people with no expectation in return.  The more I thought about the small things that Christmas morning, the more I started remembering other small things over the past few weeks.  And the more I thought about the small things, the more gratitude I had for it all.  I could end it here, and encourage us all to keep doing those small things, and keep recognizing the small things done for us.  But I read this morning:

Living with gratitude is nothing is not expressed directly, personally and immediately- Pete Wright

So I’m starting the ‘Small Thanks, Big Change’ project.  I’m challenging myself, and challenging you, to let people know that what they do matters.  I’ve made small note cards that tell people thank you, and let them know about this project.  I’m including a small gift card in each one, with the goal of giving out at least one each week.

I’ll be sharing some of the stories here as we go, but also made a Facebook page to encourage people to find their own way to say thanks in a small way that can have big change.  Hang out with me there, and share your stories of small things people do- and hey, I’ll definitely count you liking that page as one of them!    Facebook:  Small Thanks, Big Change

If I’m the only one changed (even a little bit) by this, by being pushed to see the small things all around me to be grateful for, it will have been a great investment.

And I’ll start with this- thanks for reading my random thoughts and learning about my nutty self over the past year or so.  It’s been good therapy to say the least.  Can’t wait to see where we go from here.


  1. What a great idea, Anita. It made me think of my post about giving out Christmas treats to our neighboors for their lights. I love the idea of random acts. I’ve heard people criticize them becuae they make us feel good, but if theh make us feel good and make someone else feel good isn’t that the whole point? A sincere thank you goes a long way. It helps us all remember that everyone is human and having their own sort of day. It’s even real smiles and a hi, how ya doing? I love it. Let me know how I can contribute.

  2. I love this idea & actually started doing this a few years back. I definitely need reminding and to think about it more often. I don’t always do it and often feel slightly embarassed but I know how I feel. Whether it’s just a kind hello, thank you, you look cute today, etc. Love it & definitely going to step it up. 🙂

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