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OnWords: Thanks


The holiday season and the year’s end have a lot of people taking stock.

Gratitude proliferates on social media, a new thanks for every day, for family and friends, pets and pies, warm socks and hot coffee, a fireplace on a raw, autumnal night.

No matter how you feel about such public outpourings of authenticity, you’ve certainly noticed the proliferation of thanks out there at every time of year.

I am not immune, having developed a propensity to end even the most routine emails with an emphatic “Thanks!” And you can’t enter a retail establishment without someone thanking you for coming in.

I suppose for the shopkeeper, that’s pretty genuine: they’re expressing thanks for you showing up rather than just clicking your way to Amazon in search of a better deal.

But the other thanks are maybe not all that disingenuous. After all, we understand full well that people have a million other demands for their attention—from tweets and texts to kids and commercial appeals and –Oh, yeah!—the actual work we sometimes get paid to do.  

Given the frantic pace of information sorting and attention-splitting out there, we really are thankful for someone spending a few seconds reading over what we’ve sent, or for someone slowing their pace a bit to graciously hold open a door.

The ubiquity of thanks, then, may not be as much habit or cliché as a brief bit of humanity in a frightfully dehumanizing time.