There is a proverb that states it takes a village to raise a child. In today’s world of bi-continental relationships, electronic gadgets that reach us everywhere, year-round sports for our children and immediate access to data we find ourselves somewhat overwhelmed. This puts us in a position where working together, as a neighborhood, company, family or community becomes even more valuable.

When others help out how can we let them know what they did mattered? How do we show our gratitude? Often times we turn to what can I buy or what should I buy as a thank you.

Well, over the last 10 years of living in a community over 3000 miles from my family I have witnessed some incredible gestures that were very inexpensive to purchase yet priceless to my daughter and me. My previous job had me away from home at least once a month and during this time my daughter Cassie would stay at our friend’s house. They had become like family to us, and as a gesture of my appreciation of them opening their home to my daughter, I would take their girls to the movies, to get ice cream and things like this with us.

The first summer after Cassie, then 7 years old, had been staying with them we were leaving from New Hampshire for California for her scheduled time with her dad. When we stopped by to see our friends before we left, Sheri, the mom of this family, gave my daughter a little bag and in it was blank note cards and pre-addressed stamped envelopes for both her house and mine. She thought Cassie might like to write to her girls and to me and had taken the time to prepare something very thoughtful.

This touched my heart. Wow, I had never thought about doing that; what a great idea. Cassie sent every one of those note cards and had a lot of fun doing it.

This year Cassie is a freshman in High School and played on the freshman field hockey team. At the first game it was very hot and muggy. I noticed a lot of the girls didn’t have extra bottles of water. I ran off to a friend’s house that was 5 minutes from the field, picked up an ice chest, ran to Wal-Mart and purchased bottled water and two bags of ice. Total cost was under $10. I went back to the field and pulled the chest over where the girls were. Each one of them seemed happy to have a nice cool drink. Before the next game I purchased a water cooler of my own and would take ice water to each game for less than $6. This was a hit.

Giving Gratitude

There are so many small things we can do to show our gratitude. The key here is to be alert. Look around and listen to what people say. You will pick up the best ideas of ways to show your gratitude. Here a few to get you started:
1) Give fresh flowers. With summer here I have flowers in my yard in bloom. I can cut a few and take them with me to a friend.

2) Make their favorite dish and drop it off. Being from the southwest I cook a lot of Mexican Food. I have friends that love it, however, don’t want to make the effort. When I am cooking for our family I make some extra and take it to a friend as a thank you. This is great for the family who had the carpool this week or for someone who was just there when you needed them.

3) Living in the Northeast, bugs are a part of summer. While visiting a friend she mentioned she needs to buy some more bug spray. I was headed to the store anyway and picked up a couple bottles for her.

4) Send a handwritten thank you and invite them over for lunch. It is really nice to get something personal in the mail, especially with all the email and texting that has taken its place.

5) Do the unexpected. That may sound quite vague and it is meant to. Consider what you can do that you wouldn’t normally. Offer to drive if you are going somewhere. Offer to help out if you see them doing something when you are at their house. Anything at all that shows them you care and are grateful will be meaningful.

Author's Bio: 

Cheryl Nordyke is a native of Arizona and relocated from California to New Hampshire in 1998. Cheryl has been writing since the age of 10, consistently recording her thoughts and ideas about different situations along life’s path and is a co-author of But What Do We Know and has written several children’s books. Cheryl is the mother of one daughter.