The season of thankfulness brings lots of thanksgiving, right? It’s nice, seeing the 22 days of gratitude all over social media. So many people taking a few extra minutes to remind themselves, and 627 friends, what they’re extra thankful for, what in life is really worth taking note over. I love it. Gratitude is the glue that holds us together. (I just made that up. You’re welcome.)
What if, though, we took the effort we put into 22 days of gratitude, and really, truly, genuinely thanked someone special this season? We can be thankful for our homes, and our cars, and our health, but do those things actually gain anything by you thanking them? What if you thought of someone, or a few someones, and sat down and penned them an old fashioned letter listing what they really mean to you? Especially if the person you’re thanking isn’t expecting it at all. An employee, a boss, a grandparent, a relative, a sibling, a child care provider, a crossing guard, a teacher, a spouse, a friend (old or new!), your postal worker, the garbage man.
How might you change the course of someone’s season, or year, or even life, if you took some intentional, carved out time to pour over how special they have been to you?
This past weekend, I had the chance to thank my son’s baseball coaches. They meant the world to us, and they did more than just teach the game of baseball to a bunch of 6 and 7 year olds. I truly believe that they bettered lives in those 12 weeks. Words fail me, especially to grown men I’m not very close with at all, but it was important to me that they know how important they are. So I wrote them a letter, in the true spirit of thanksgiving, and am sharing it with you, in hopes that it encourages you to take some time out of a busy season to find someone unexpected to thank!
Dear Coach D & Coach T–
It is important to us that you both know how important you are. I’m sure you know you did a great job, you’ve heard it plenty this season! I know you know you’re loved and appreciated — we’ve all said it enough! But I also want you to know, that what you both did this season, was important. You’re the kind of guys that change lives, empower lives, shape lives. You turned little boys into ball players, and little lives into valued ones.
You see, when Caden was down, you didn’t just fill him with “It’s ok”s and “You’ll get em next time”s, which is really all that anyone would have expected (or hoped) of you. You got down on your knees, right in the middle of dusty fields, and looked him in the eyes and breathed life back into him. You took little boys when they were at their lowest, and turned a big, defeated situation into a “next time” full of hope. And when that next time didn’t come, again and again and again, you got down every.single.time. and you refused to stop until they saw their value. Until they saw themselves through your eyes, through OUR eyes, and felt bigger and stronger to try it all over again. You raised up overcomers.
When the time [finally] came when Caden, or any other kid, came out of their “slump”, you didn’t just “I told ya so” or “Way to go, slugger!”, you literally picked him up in your arms and swung him around like he was a major leaguer who’d just won the world series. Better yet, you loved on him like he was your own son. When times were to be celebrated, you celebrated with your whole selves. You hooted and hollered and threw kids in the air and made them feel like SUPER STARS. Like they were the only kid who’d ever scored in a baseball game, and you were their number 1 fan. You taught them resilience in the lows, but you also taught them that they are worthy of BIG fanfare, that even the small moments are big ones and they deserve to feel it. You raised up boys full of worth.
The best part about your excitement on the field was how you instilled such great sportsmanship amongst ALL the boys on the team! I can’t tell you how many days I sung “rip sha na na na” to myself, probably while cheering myself on to finish the laundry or something dreadful! Those boys NEVER said a sour word to each other, on the contrary, they shared constant words of praise to one another. Caden would share with us on the regular how when he’d come into the dugout after striking out at 1st, the boys would just tell him to shake it off, he’d get them next time. Coach D– one morning, Caden was having a particularly terrible morning on his way to school. He was in a rancid mood and cried, angrily, almost the whole walk. We got to the bike gates and some friends tried to cheer him up to no avail. They went on ahead of him and he begrudgingly made his own way behind them. My mom-anxiety was high… until I saw your son go bouncing up behind him, all smiles (as usual!) yelling “Caden! Caden!” I couldn’t hear what he said, but saw Caden’s face light up, his whole body perk up, and continued his walk to class with shoulders held high. That evening I asked Caden what B had said. He said “He said are you going to hit big again? Hit one of those big ones you always do?” Wow. With one fell swoop, he changed the course of Caden’s day. Just like his dad, he breathed wind into his sails. You both not only raised up a team of soul lifters, you raised up sons who lead the pack. You raised up difference makers.
All those boys, all 13 of them, got to watch you guys all season long. They watched men who [mostly, ahem] kept their cool. Who saw crappy plays, questioned them out of justice, but let them go just as quickly out of kindness. They saw dads who loved their sons well. They saw friends who had fun as adults playing baseball together. They saw coaches who encouraged and supported their teammates. They saw opposing coaches who smiled, loved on, and lifted up kids on other teams. The high fives, the hand shakes, the tousled hair. You were stern when it was important, you were fun all the rest of the time. You took simple times and made teaching moments out of them. They watched you be the best version of you. You raised up boys of integrity.
Last, but first really, you made baseball fun. Do you know how important that is? You do, I know, because you asked them at the end of every game “Did you have fun??” You told them even while standing at bat, “HEY! Just have fun!!!” You took a sport that some might deem boring (blasphemy!), and made sure that 13 little boys had FUN no matter what they did, what their position was, how they played, or what the score was. When other coaches were out there screaming at their kids, making them nervous, reminding them what was at stake (even though it was NOTHING), you yelled out “JUST. HAVE. FUN” You raised up adventurers!
All that to say, thank you. Thank you for spending your free time these last 12 weeks investing into our son in a way only YOU could. For helping him overcome a really bad slump, for loving him well, for encouraging him, for cheering him on, for making him feel like #1 every day, for making sure that baseball was fun! For instilling in him a newfound love for the game. Most importantly, though, for showing him, in a broken world, what men of integrity look like. What it looks like to play hard, but love harder. The trophies are great, the championship is awesome, but the impact you’ve made on a little boy’s heart will last forever. Thank you for doing something really important. We are grateful.
The Weiler Family
It’s great to remind ourselves all we’re thankful for, all we’ve been blessed with, but how much greater would it be to let someone else know what they mean to us? It doesn’t have to be a long letter if you just don’t have the time or mental capacity for it! It can be a store bought card that describes so well how you feel, a quick note card thrown into an envelope, a simple text even. Pick some specific ways you’re thankful, and speak from the heart. In the season of thanksgiving, a little bit of love will go a long way. I promise.