Charlie met Isaac at the door. “Hi, Dad. How was work? Miss Marta brought us cookies!” he said in a rush.
Isaac smiled and ruffled Charlie’s hair. “Work was fine. Cookies are great. How was your day?”
“Dad!” Charlie batted his hand away. “We had a good day. We had so many green beans from the garden that we took some to the neighbors. Mr. Jones gave me a hat. Do you want to see it?”
“Of course I do!”
Charlie raced off. While he was gone, Isaac changed out of his work shoes. Charlie raced back around the corner wearing an old, faded blue fedora. “Look at me! Do I look grown up wearing a hat?”
“Very grown up,” Isaac said seriously. Charlie grinned.
Charlie took Isaac’s hand and started leading him to the kitchen. “I added Miss Marta and Mr. Jones to the thank you list,” he said.
Marianne was in the kitchen stirring a pan of green beans and tomatoes. It smelled wonderful. Isaac sniffed the air. “Did you bake bread today, too?”
“It was supposed to be a surprise,” Charlie said.
“The nose knows.” Isaac tapped his nose and tried to look wise. Charlie laughed. Dinner was wonderful, and the cookies were oatmeal. Isaac loved oatmeal cookies.
By Sunday, the thank you list had grown longer than normal. Marianne brought the box of thank you notes from the craft closet, Isaac gathered some pens from his desk, and Charlie pulled the list out from under the magnet on the fridge door. “We have lots of thank yous this week,” Charlie said as he dropped the list on the kitchen table.
Marianne sat down and picked up the list. “That just means it was a good week. Which one do you want to start with?”
“I’ll start with Mr. Jones’ card. I really like my new hat!” Charlie picked up a card and a pen and started writing.
Isaac picked up a card and pen. “I’ll start Miss Marta’s card. Oatmeal cookies are my favorite.”
Marianne looked at the list. “Then I’ll start with Robert’s mom. It was so nice of her to bring us all those jeans that he grew out of. They look brand new.”
The room was quiet for a minute or two. Then Charlie sat up and put his pen down. “All done. Here, Dad. You can sign this one next.” He took the list and looked at it. “Aunt Doris?”
Marianne looked up from her card and nodded. “She sent us that nice book.”
Charlie frowned. “It was a baby book. I don’t need baby books.” He took his pen and scribbled out Aunt Doris’ name.
“Charlie.” Marianne looked disapproving. “Why do we write thank you notes?”
“Because we feel thankful? But I’m not thankful for baby books! She always thinks I’m a baby, but I’m not.” Charlie folded his arms across his chest and pouted. It made him look like a somewhat tall toddler.
Marianne sighed. “Sometimes we are thankful for the gifts themselves. But even when we don’t like the gift, we can be thankful that someone thought to give us a gift at all. It’s nice that Aunt Doris thought of you and wanted you to be happy, even if she isn’t very good at picking out presents sometimes.”
Charlie continued to frown for a little while longer. Then he sighed and unfolded his arms. “I guess it’s not her fault that she isn’t good at knowing what kids like. She’s really old.”
Isaac chuckled. “She is older than any of us, but be careful about calling people old. Once people are around my age, they usually don’t like being reminded about being old.”
“But you’re not old. Well, maybe just a little bit old. But not old like Aunt Doris. And you’re good at picking out presents!”
Isaac held up a hand. “Don’t worry. I think I still have many years left. Just be careful about calling people old.”
Charlie shrugged. “Okay.”
Marianne picked up the list and held it out. “So, would you like to fix the list now? I think it’s missing a name.”
Charlie took the list and scowled. “Fine. But I’m not going to say it’s my favorite book. Because it’s not. It’s not even about dinosaurs.” He added Aunt Doris to the bottom of the list.
“That’s fine.” Marianne smiled. “Just say thank you for the gift. Maybe you could tell her about something fun you did recently, too. I’m sure she’d like to hear more about you. We don’t get to see her all that often.”
“Okay. I can do that,” Charlie said.
Isaac finished his note and signed his name, and then he passed Miss Marta’s card to Charlie. “Then you can sign this card next. I know you liked the cookies too.”
He picked up Mr. Jones’ card and chose a place to add his thank you note for Charlie’s new hat. He slid the card over to Marianne. With no new cards to sign, it was time to look at the list again. “Now let’s see… who’s next on the list?”