The Business of Gratitude

Did I mention that  I started my own business this week? Well, truth be told, it was several weeks ago, but the paperwork has been arriving in the mail from various state and federal entities. There’s a gravitas to the arrival of these tax notifications, etc. that is quite overwhelming and sobering. I am most definitely having buyer’s remorse.

Most people probably have an idea for a business and start baking cupcakes, let’s say, in their kitchen, and then share them at work, where a lot of people tell them how yummy they are. Then they ramp up their cupcake production, children and friends helping to ice them. Then they start selling them for their friends’ children’s birthday parties, then to the PTA meetings, then, and only then, when they’ve established that there is a market for their cupcakes, do they start a company.

Not me.

My business was borne of a gift. A gift sent to my school on my behalf, in honor of me by my high school theatre mentor.  It was a beautiful gesture, one which caused me to write an email of thanks to him and his spouse. I chose to write a silly affectionate email in a style evoked by their foundation’s name.

Dear Grand-père and Grand-mère,

Yesterday, I received the most wonderful email alerting me  of an unexpected and delightful grant in honor of me! It was so generous of you, and here, after all this time of not even paying you a visit to your Berkshire home. Our ill-timed trip to your neck of the woods resulted in no time sitting on the porch basking in the beautiful buggy breezes, no chatting and sipping from a high frosty glass of lemonade, though, as you know, Grandparents, I prefer my Arnie Palmers after a bracing game of lawn croquet. It doesn’t seem I deserve such a gift.

Seriously, though, it was the nicest thing that’s happened to me since last week when I received the painting from Tante Irene. I am apparently emitting the “Els needs gifts” juju and the wealth of the world and you, dear Grandpere et Grandmere, has been extraordinary.

I do have some concerns that our mutual admiration philanthropy may result in that kind of ridiculous exchange of gifts where I send my brother an Amazon gift card of $50 on his birthday and he sends the same to me on mine. Or, god forbid, an escalation of competitive philanthropy resulting in one or the both of us ending up in the poor house. But for the time being, I am basking in the complete satisfaction that he that inducted me with the vow of theatrical poverty hath also given me riches to squander in its pursuit. And those are riches indeed.

I thank you so much, Grand-père et Grand-mére, and reiterate that though we don’t have the bucolic porch on which to sip our frosty lemonade, we have a skyline facing view with hummingbirds in the foreground awaiting your visit. In the meantime, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for your thoughtful gift to my students.

If I could see you I know you would be rolling your eyes. Maybe even guffawing. I talked with my husband tonight about how ridiculous it was. But at the time, the previous weeks had been about the three GRs – Grit, Gratitude and Grace. I owed most of the inspiration for my recent scribblings to Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, but I credit the events of weeks past for the Gratitude part; the Grace factor, well that’s the elusive thing we all strive to achieve.

As I was cleaning our apartment that morning several weeks ago, dusting, changing the sheets, dumping the trash, so enthused was I with my gratitude and my own wit, I thought,

AHA! What if I started a business where I would write thank you notes for people?

No one likes to write thank you notes. My dear departed Mom was so insistent about writing thank you notes that even now my hand starts to twitch toward the nook on my writing desk anytime anyone even threatens kindness. I can’t ever leave a stationery store without scoping out the thank you note section. Vroman’s is ruinous. But maybe I’ve come up with a way to underwrite my addiction.

My new company is called Gratitude, and will utilize writers to pen thank you notes for the Average Jane or Joe who wants a really special thank you note sent to someone for a gift he/she has received. Need a thank you note? Here’s all I need to know:

  1. Gift Recipient’s name and address
  2. The Gift Giver’s name and address
  3. What the gift was
  4. Date you received the gift
  5. A few lines about what your relationship to the gifter is
  6. Maybe one fact about where you grew up for flavor

STYLE: Choose your thank you note style

  1. Sincere
  2. Funny
  3. Irreverent
  4. Duck Dynasty
  5. Victorian Lady’s Letter of Thanks
  6. Raymond Chandler

OUR TEAM OF WRITERS (because this business will take off really fast, requiring the additional writers to the team – and I have already selected you, you can be sure) are either randomly assigned the notes, or, you, the gift recipient, can hand pick your writer.

HANDWRITTEN? TYPED? Do you want to let the giver know how much you cared? You didn’t sit down at your kitchen table, push the dirty dishes out of the way and pull out the notecards, brow furrowed, sweating over the notecard to write your thanks! No! You commissioned a thank you note of merit to reflect your profound appreciation for their gift. Think of it as a work of art.

TIMELY GUARANTEE! The note will go out within 24 hours of the order being placed and you will receive a copy of the note.

WHAT DOES THIS SERVICE COST? You tell me. What would you pay for someone to write your notes for you? $5.00 a piece?

So I did it a little out of order.  I didn’t don my apron and head out to the kitchen to start practicing writing delicious thank you notes. I went directly to my computer and typed in legalzoom.com, where I started my company. Took about 15 minutes. For which I will be eternally grateful.

Gratitude is now easy.

Thanks 2

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