How many times have you been told that you should be more grateful, or perhaps that you are so ungrateful. This was a constant theme for me when I was younger. If for example, I showed a certain degree of resistance to wearing the hand knitted jumper I had been given for Birthday by my well-and-truly-past-it fifty year old, ancient Aunty, or if I balked at the suggestion of having pasta again for my tea or if I said I was bored on my holiday to Northumberland, where, as always, we would shiver behind a wind shield on a cold, cold beach, eating ice lollies and pretending it was the Bahamas not Bamburgh. “You are so ungrateful” my parents would say; some people don’t have anything to eat for their tea or don’t even know what the word holiday means or moreover, get any presents on their birthday.
This, as a grumpy fourteen year old only interested in shaving her head and listening morosely to the Smiths and Sinead o Conner, went in one ear and out of the other. You are so old, I used to think, you just don’t understand how difficult it is. Why should I be thinking about anyone else but me?
I was brought up to always say pleases and thank yous. This was a big deal at home and drilled into me and my siblings all the time. If I didn’t say please or thank you, I clearly wasn’t grateful for whatever it was I was asking for or had received. It became automatic to say it, and I was always known as a very polite person, always remembering my ps and qs, even though sometimes I wasn’t sure why I was doing it.
The worst part of this ps and qs business, was the Thank you letter.
Thank you letters at Christmas or birthdays were the biggest pain in the neck; all hand written, all saying thank you for whatever gift I had been given even the hand knitted jumper from my aging Aunty. I hated thank you letters. They took ages, they were boring and they were a dark cloud that hung over the days after my birthday.
Thank you for the lovely jumper that you gave me for my birthday. It is so warm and cosy. I hope we see you soon,
What I really wanted to say was:
Really? You really think I am going to wear that ugly, too tight, too scratchy, too brightly coloured jumper? Really?
I am returning it in the hope that you will learn your lesson and next year send me a voucher or some cash.
Love Louise xx
And then I grew up, had a family and my siblings did the same resulting in nieces and nephews everywhere and lots of presents to buy. Then the tables began to turn: it was now me sending my equivalent of the hand knitted jumper. I spend ages thinking about the right gift, wrapping it with care, queuing for hours in the post office and posting it to the four corners of the UK to arrive in time for birthdays or Christmas. It dawned on me that my Aunty had probably spent hours knitting that ugly, too tight, too scratchy, too brightly coloured, pom-pom adorned jumper, with nothing but the best intentions, hoping that it would make me happy… only to have it sneered at by an ungrateful 14 year old me.
I still feel guilty now.
And what about the thank you letters? Did my hatred of them as a child mean I dismissed their importance as an adult? ….not one bit.
I love receiving thank you letters –Christmas/Birthdays or anything in between – hand written in scrawly, reluctant writing ..I absolutely love them. So much so that if I don’t get a thank you letter, the likelihood of there even being a gift ever again rapidly diminishes… …and if I receive an emoji filled message on Snapgram or Instachat as a modern version of the thank you letter, the standard of my gift the following year definitely declines..
People say that the more you have, the more you expect to have and equally, the less you have, the more grateful you are for what you have. We are living in a world where the acquisition of stuff has never been so quick and so easy. I am wondering whether this is making us value each other less and our possessions more. And this quite simply is not right.
Are we losing sight of what really matters? How often do we thank people for the little things that they do or do we save our thanks for the grand gestures at Christmas or Birthdays? Do we need to say thank you for small kindnesses or do we take them for granted? Do we take each other for granted? Do we have a sense of entitlement that overshadows any feeling of gratitude we might have?
Right now, as we head towards the last fewdays of September, instead of being focused purely on getting ourselves to our Exeat weekend, we could do better than this. If we spread a little bit of gratitude, we might help each other get through to Exeat and indeed beyond, into the dark days of October.
Think for a moment of someone in school – even in this chapel right now – who has helped you recently – and make a mental note to thank them. Don’t assume that they know you are grateful. Tell them.
When did you last thank the catering staff for their fantastic food? When did you last thank the domestic staff who clean in your House? Do you always thank the person who holds open the door for you? When did you last stop to say good morning to the grounds staff as they sweep the leaves, prune the bushes and prepare the pitches?
Think of your life beyond school, think of the people whom you love and who love you. Whether it’s your granny or grandpa, your aunt or your uncle, your sister or brother, your mum or your dad; telling them what they mean to you will make you feel good and make them feel even better.
As we think about making people feel better, I want to mention our Harvest Festival on October 7 – two weeks today. With more than 14 million people living in poverty – including 4.5 million children, foodbanks are becoming increasingly necessary. If each one of us brought one item in for the Harvest Festival collection, we could make a huge difference to the Ipswich Food Bank that we support. Information about when and what to bring will come to Houses this week.
I am grateful to you all for listening. Thank you.
Some individual achievements for celebration:
Last week, Christina Wehmeyer achieved 8 commendations and in total since the beginning of term has been awarded 13. An excellent achievement, well done.
Charlie Alabaster scored 100% in her opening maths test of the term and Seth Faulkner and Sofia Malonda also achieved very highly.
Over the summer holidays, Lottie Rowland qualified as a St John’s Ambulance Paediatric Emergency first aider which is fantastic.
Last week’s trip to the House of Parliament was a great success and Mr Salisbury wanted to highlight the behaviour and pleasant company of all 25 pupils who went on the trip and were terrific ambassadors for the College. Thank you and well done.
Last Friday evening’s House Singing was fabulous and I want to congratulate all of you on your fantastic show of House spirit and camaraderie. I loved the singing and the Part song and well done to Kerrison and Victoria for your victories.
This weekend, I am delighted to say that in both Hockey and Rugby, we had some great triumphs. Well done to the boys 1stXV and the u15s, who beat Colchester, with Kodie Holloway scoring 4 tries. The 14As and 14Bs weren’t so lucky and lost their matches. In the Hockey, there were three-way triangular matches against Ipswich and Norwich, with all but two matches being won. And finally, a huge congratulations to the girls u14 hockey team who became County Champions on Wednesday last week.
Today, we will see the return of our Bronze DoE pupils after a night under the stars..there is House Football and House Squash so good luck! We have a guest speaker tomorrow evening Dr Suzanne Imber, who will be talking on Astronauts: do you have what it takes? A fascinating topic whether you are interested in being an astronaut or not -be curious and come along! and Year 9 have a Film Day on Friday.
Throw yourselves in to whatever you can, make the most of the opportunities and enjoy it.