Expressing Gratitude


Tasked with writing a letter expressing gratitude to someone who changed their lives but whom they never thanked, my students had a project one Thanksgiving to write a letter of gratitude and to surprise the person they are thanking by reading the letter aloud to them. Today it seems appropriate to express my gratitude to the total stranger in Germany who came to our aid one cold November afternoon.

During my first Fulbright year teaching in Neresheim, Germany, I was on my drive home up the hill past the monastery with my two children in tow. We had just been to the doctor and had picked up medicine. I thought it odd that cars were off both sides of the road with people standing outside them. When I approached the top of the hill, the car came to a stop. Only then did I realize that I was driving on sheer ice. The day had been overcast, and by afternoon, the fog and mist caused the road to freeze. Major highways were sanded near the town, but no salt was used on side streets.


I applied the brakes and thought over quickly what I was going to do. I could not drive up the hill, but backing down the hill didn’t seem a good option either. Was I to spend the night in the town and try to drive home the next morning? When I decided to back down the hill, I glanced in the rear view mirror and almost jumped out of my seat. I saw a man’s face. He came around to the driver’s side, and I quickly explained that my children were sick, and I was trying to get them home from the doctor’s. But where did he come from?

This perfect stranger told me to drive ahead up the hill while he pushed the car at the same time. It was miraculous how this maneuver worked. Just when I had gone over the top of the hill and wanted to stop to thank this man for his kindness, he simply motioned for me to drive on and not stop. All I could do was shout out Danke (thanks) to the man as I drove home.

Today, I want to personally express my gratitude to this man for helping us in our hour of need. I have never forgotten him and truly appreciate his kindness. Although I realize he can’t listen as I read my letter of gratitude to him, I think he must know in his heart. So today I want to thank him for his good deed. Happy Thanksgiving to all!



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20 Responses to Expressing Gratitude

  1. Emily says:

    Wonderful blog! The photos look great as well. Looks like
    a delicious meal 🙂 such a great story in your post too.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Why thank you, Emily. The food at the Sherwood is always excellent. I vividly recall the icy road to this day and somehow I was almost to the top when the man helped pushed from the driver’s side. How he did that, I’ll never know. He was an angel on earth. Thanks for your comment.


  2. A lovely post of heartfelt gratitude. Out of nowhere comes a stranger to help you in your time of need and then he is gone. I wonder where he came from? An angel maybe? :o)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Interesting comment. I too thought he was a Guardian Angel. My father had died one month before this incident, and I suspected he sent this man to help us. And right near the chapel where I had gone to sing Amazing Grace to him. Your comment is very thoughtful and much appreciated. ^__^ Whenever I am in Germany, I visit the chapel.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Some strangers leave forever impressions on our lives!!☺

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Arno Bode,cologne ,Germany says:

    Liebe Mary Ann,
    eine schöne Geschichte die Du mit viel Herz (zu Papier gebracht hast) ins Netz gestellt hast.
    In deiner bewundernswerten Art zu schreiben kann man fast die Situation gefühlmäßig nachvollziehen.Eindrucksvolle Erinnerungen.
    Eine schöne eisfreie Weihnachtszeit wünscht Dir und deiner Familie
    Dein Arno

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lieber Arno,
      your kind words and comment touch me deeply. I write from the heart and try to express how I feel at the time or felt at the time. I have always wanted to thank this stranger outside of Neresheim. We had a bit of snow yesterday, but today is sunny. A happy Advent to you and your family as well.
      Deine Mary Ann ^__^


  5. Bun Karyudo says:

    It’s just another example of how a little kindness can go such a long way and leave such a big impression. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Annika Perry says:

    A lovely belated thank you to your kind stranger…so often we come across these acts of generosity and help and only have time to say a quick ‘thank you’. I always hope the people realise how much I appreciate their help. Hoping you had a very special Thanksgiving, Mary Ann. 😀😃


    • It was a lovely quiet Thanksgiving with just the two of us. We await snow again as I write this. Strange weather of late with a few warm days followed by a major snow event. Enjoy this wonderful, magical Advent season. What are your customs in Sweden? Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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