Countless Ways to Give Thanks

Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her entire article in this week’s Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Early this year I began an unusual personal project. I committed to writing 365 thank you notes in 365 days. My self-imposed rule dictated that each of these thank yous had to be written in 365 words or less.

Additionally (my rule, again) the notes of appreciation had to be snail-mailed. Yes, each with a signature, envelope, and return address and stamp.

Sadly, this ambitious project ended very far from its goal. Too quickly I was bogged down by a lack of time and I abandoned my whimsical project after the first 30 days.

Let me explain my failure.

First, gratitude comes from a deep place within and heartfelt writing takes time to construct. I found that I just didn’t have the time each and every day to spend on the process.

Simply put, reflection got in the way. It sometimes took more than a day to recover from the feelings conjured up by past memories brought about by my gratitude.

Second, early in the project I realized that many of the people I wanted to thank are now entirely gone. All of my grandparents, my parents, my aunts and uncles have passed on. My girlhood teachers, the parents of most of my childhood friends and many of my mentors are also no longer with us.

Others who had deeply affected my life have retired and moved away. Even with Google and other online resources some people were nearly impossible to find. I found myself spending time I didn’t have to search the Internet for a college professor, one of my daughter’s teachers and an elementary school principal.

Happily, however, I can report that on the flipside my futile endeavor was an achievement for many reasons.

I did actually manage to find several handfuls of people from my past and some rather interesting people from the present. Delightfully, some actually wrote back to me to thank me for thanking them. They were pleasantly surprised and touched by my gratitude.

The 365-word length rule was purely a fanciful challenge. Some letters had to be cut to the bone with much left unsaid. This was frustrating for me but was also a wonderful exercise. This is called “tight writing” or “taking the out the fat.” I practiced this process of tight writing and learned immensely from it.

Each Monday I wondered who I would thank that week. I often added one, two, three or sometimes ten new people to my list. Crossing them off the list once I had written the thank you was incredibly satisfying. More gratifying, however, was knowing there were so many people who had touched my life over many years.

Now that the project has been abandoned my new goal is to try to thank at least one person a day in an email, a phone call or in person. Just two simple words. Thank you.

And so, in this column to be published on Thanksgiving Day 2010, it seems particularly appropriate to thank some of the people important to our library.

Many non-profit organizations could not make exist without private donations and volunteers and the Morrill Memorial Library is no exception. I want to thank each and every donor, each and every Friend and library volunteer.

The Friends of the Morrill Memorial Library work tirelessly to give every penny they raise back to the library community in some way. The Friends provide funds for the programming that the library offers on a weekly basis. The Friends provide the funds to purchase equipment, furnishings, museum passes and audiovisual materials for the library.

Where there is a need, our Friends answer it. Thank you, Friends.

They shall remain nameless here but there are many library volunteers who come to the library on a regular schedule to perform some of the most critical but repetitive tasks for us. Many shelve books. Some simply adhere stickers to DVDs, books and other materials. Some rearrange and tidy our bookshelves.

Others are young people who give many hours to the children’s librarians to free their time to do other things. Still others are wonderful volunteers who deliver books for our Outreach Department. Many more become trained tutors in our Literacy Department.

Thousands of hours per year are spent by loyal volunteers. Thank you, volunteers.

The library receives both anonymous and targeted donations every day. We use these funds to purchase materials and supplies. Thank you, donors.

Visit our website,, or call the director to learn about volunteer opportunities. While many of our opportunities are filled at the moment, we will be more than happy to speak to you about how you might help us in the future. Please consider joining the Friends of the Library. Your financial support or your help with the Book Sale and other Friends’ events helps the library in countless ways.

Thank you, Norwood, for your support in all ways of the Morrill Memorial Library.

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