“A Thank You Note to Start the Year,” column for Jan. 6, 2014

Some people are good at saying thank you. My daughter and daughter-in-law and my husband’s niece, for example. They’re the kind of people who make you feel bad about giving them a gift because you know they’ll insist on taking time out of their very full lives to write you a lovely note of thanks.

Not that saying thank you isn’t important. Of course it is. That’s why it’s one of the first things we teach our children, long before they learn to write.

Wiley is 2, the youngest of our four grandchildren. His parents have drilled him on manners.

“What do you say, Wiley?” they ask, when his big brother shares a cookie. (Wiley and I like cookies a lot.) His eyes will light up as he smiles and says something that sounds a lot like “Thank you.” Then he’ll hold out his hand and say, “More.”

I wish you could see him. Is anything finer than the smile of a child with a grateful heart?

I’d like to think I’m a “thank you note” kind of person. Truth is, I’m not. I write notes in my head but they rarely make it to print, let alone, to the mail.

I thought of that this morning as I read the notes from those three young women. Their mothers raised them well.
My mother raised me right, too. But she wasn’t one to write notes. To her, it was enough to speak her thanks or show it with a gesture (often a peach cobbler) and mean it with all her heart.

That said, I believe absolutely in the power of putting words into writing. It’s what I do for a living. So I decided to make this, my first column of a new year, a thank you note. Where to start?

First, thanks for inspiration. It’s that tingly thing that makes a writer want to write, a singer want to sing or most anybody want to scratch a creative itch. In my case, it’s an odd and unpredictable urge that comes from, say, birds at my window, snow on the mountains or three “thank you” notes in one day.

I can’t define inspiration or tell you where to find it. I only know it when I see it. Often, it’s just a deadline and the sound of a ticking clock. But I’m always grateful for any way it shows up.

Second, thanks for the help, for all the people who take the words I write and, with hard work and a little magic, deliver them to your door or your computer. Having been involved for years in various steps of that process, I’m always thankful and amazed to see it work.

Third, thanks for all the great material. Here the list grows long: To my family in the South, living or long departed; to my children and grandchildren in California; to people I meet in airports or public restrooms or checkout lines in a strange new home my mother would’ve called “Las Vegas of All Places.”

Also, a special thanks for my husband. He puts up with a lot.

To write about life and whatever comes along, if you stay alive and pay attention, you’ll never run out of material. All sorts of things, good and bad, will keep coming along.

That’s what I try to do _ stay alive, pay attention and write about what I see. But writing isn’t complete until it’s read.

Whether you’re new to this column or have read it for 20 years, you make it possible for me to keep doing what I do.

Sometimes you send notes or emails to say that you’ve read something I wrote and it meant something to you and you hope I’ll keep writing.

Words like that are better than a cookie. I read every one of them, and I wish you could see how they make me smile. I may not always have time to reply. Or even to comb my hair. But I want you to know I am truly grateful for your readership, your encouragement and, most of all, your friendship.

Please accept this as a “thank you” note written, yes, just for you.

Like Wiley, I’ll say a simple “Thank you.” Then I’ll hold out my hand and say, “More.”


  1. Thank you for the column. It is such an inspiration to my whole family.

  2. Kathleen Leveroni says

    Loved the column but need to say that the fact that you have a grandson named Wiley absolutely warmed my heart thru and thru! His great grandfather would have just loved that! I send your column to an ex-daughter in law who has a knack for writing and is just this year writing her columns for our local newspapers. I wish her the best of luck and hope her talent evolves as yours did for you! Best of 2015 to you and yours…

  3. Shelley Sipe says

    You never fail to touch my heart. Thank you for writing.. And, yes, more please..

  4. Goodness. I first have to admit that whenever I’m about to read one of Sharon’s columns, I almost unconsciously take a breath so that I’ll slow down & savor every word. I’ve found no one else that has the ability to put into words so many things that feel almost like shared feelings between best friends or sisters. They go straight to the heart, & I never know if I’ll smile or shed a tear, but I do know I always feel a little more complete that day for having read it. Sharon, you’re a true gem & you make all our lives richer for having been a small part of yours.

  5. Janice O'Mara says

    Thank you for your inspiring columns. I look forward to them every week. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry, sometimes both, but they always make me feel better.
    We live in North Carolina and our only child, a son, is moving to San Francisco in a few days. We are excited for him, but so sad for us. Three thousand miles is so much farther than 15 minutes down the road. Fortunately, we can visit him whenever we want, but it won’t be the same. So please, keep those stories coming of your precious visits to see your family.

  6. You’re welcome! 🙂 And thank you for pulling at my heart strings every time I read your column! Are you sure you didn’t grow up in Boone County, MO? I think we had some of the same relatives! Happy New Year!

  7. Hi Sharon ~ I do so appreciate your blog and always look forward to reading it. Like you I write notes in my head, but somehow they never reach paper ~ much to my Mom’s dismay! Love hearing about your grandchildren ~ mine are all grown and we have two great granddaughters, 6 years and 4 1/2 months old, who live about 450 miles away ~ so your blogs about yours help fill my “Grammie need”.

  8. It was 11.44 pm just another day is about to start and I forgot to read the best column of all blogs I have read so far even mine which I often write but nothing new comes in my mind when I open it .
    I started my laptop ,and read each line and will not sleep until I reply to Sharron my best writer ,best of bestest of this country even best among other countries too . I am thankful to her in many ways and feeling blessed that I could find her precious notes ,columns and much more from her blog . God bless you and your family who is also so sweet to celebrate all festivals with her . Love you Sharron and every column you write is more and more full of life and new adventures too .

  9. Let me THANK YOU for your columns over the years. I have always enjoyed them so much.

  10. Well, you are off to a wonderful start in 2015, making me smile and think of all I have to be thankful for…er, for which to be thankful (my grammar education always at the forefront of my mind!) My husband and I are fortunate to have our 4 yr old grandsons nearby. We are their daycare while Dad and Mom are working. Our other grandkids are in Ohio and South Carolina so we are ever so thankful to have the twins with us almost on a daily basis. They are keeping us young … and exhausted…and laughing. I get that creative itch to write usually because of something they have done or said, along with the stories gleaned from my other daughters and their children. I hope someday when I am just a memory that they will appreciate the memories I fashioned for them in my notebook.
    Looking forward to your next column.

  11. Linda russell agrati says

    You could not have put those words in my head into any better words on paper! Nor could I have said it any better. I enjoy your columns so much Sharon. Thank you.
    Linda (Boyd russell) Agrati

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