My mother gave me life… twice: Tahnie’s #ThankList

07142015_Tanhie_AG_FBAs a part of our ongoing #ThankList campaign, we are sharing stories of gratitude from our community of friends and fans. If you have a story you’d like to tell, tweet us @amgreetings!

Just barely a year into the world, baby Tahnie’s future became a fragile one that would require an intense fight for survival. Born with a rare disease, each passing year brought her closer to an inevitable battle. Then the day finally came when the waiting was over, and her mother stepped in to save her. Here is Tahnie’s amazing story of a mother’s love to save her child, and how Tahnie was given a second chance at life and “conquered her impossible.”

In 1984, a few months after my first birthday, I was diagnosed with the ultra-rare disease, Cystinosis. My mother became aware of the fact I would need a kidney transplant at some point in my life. Fast forward through the years, amid several hospital stays intertwined in a happy childhood, that time came when I was 10 years old. She stepped up to donate one of her own kidneys to me without thinking twice.

Because of her gift, I was able to completely avoid dialysis, the process in which a machine filters the blood in the body, acting as an artificial kidney. It is a treatment that works, but it’s riddled with often severe side effects and can be incredibly challenging to tolerate. 

{ How do you thank someone who gave you life not once, but twice? I don’t think there is a way. However, I live my life to the fullest, not daring to waste any extra days her generosity has given me. }

How do you put into words the tremendous gift of giving you more life so that you could become a mother yourself? There are only about 9 other women in the world with cystinosis, who have survived the high risk pregnancy. My daughter, in many ways, owes her existence to her grandmother. For this, I will never be able to repay her! And yet, spending my days chasing after my dreams with gusto is one thing I aim to do with every fiber of my being. 

To read more about Tahnie, follow her at today is a miracle and a happy girl, where she continues to celebrate “conquering your own impossible.”


The Teacher Who Changed It All: Mickie’s ThankList

I’d wanted to publish a children’s book for as long as I can remember. Books factored largely into my childhood. I would check out 50 of them from the library, read all of them in two weeks, and return them for another pile. I collected books too—Nancy Drew and original hardcover titles from the early 1900s from L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.


For me, there was no greater joy than reading. I thought that creating something which brought so much enjoyment to others must be incredibly fulfilling work.

Years later, when choosing college classes to fulfill my Creative Writing minor, I had to decide between a poetry writing class or a script writing class. The choice was easy—I didn’t want to take either of them! But I had to take one, so I went with poetry, figuring the pieces would be shorter to write. I certainly didn’t envision crafting any epic poems à la The Odyssey or Beowulf or Paradise Lost.

I was nothing short of shocked when I ended up loving the class. Professor Elton Glaser taught me more about words and the art of stringing them together than any other teacher, before or after.

Mr. Glaser told us we should pay close attention to language when writing poetry. Whether employing alliteration or onomatopoeia, assonance or consonance, or any other poetic sound devices, he stressed the importance of always choosing the right words. Mr. Glaser also instructed us that a poem should evoke an image.

In late spring of 2009, when my family was driving to Indianapolis, I started to write a story about a little ghost. He lived in a haunted house and, in order to fall asleep at night, would listen to the various sounds—bats flapping / footsteps tapping… spiders clicking / an old clock ticking…witches cackling / skeletons rattling….black cats hissing / the wind whistling.

I finished a draft over the course of that weekend and spent many months revising…and revising…and revising some more.

In the summer of 2010, I sent the manuscript to a vice president at Random House whom I knew on an email-basis—and she ended up buying it. I was thrilled. My childhood dream had come true!

bedtime for bo

When I heard about American Greetings ThankList initiative—recognizing those people who had helped shape our lives—I thought of Mr. Glaser. I wanted this particular teacher to know how directly he influenced my first (and hopefully not last) original book sale.

And so I emailed him.

And he responded!

He was pleased to hear that something I learned in one of his classes so long ago was able to be used later in life to bring me happiness.

He also asked for two signed copies for his grandchildren. :-)

Now that’s my idea of a happy ending!

– Mickie


Inspiring Gratitude: A free Mary Engelbreit Printable Quote


As a part of our #ThankList movement, we’ve reached out and asked our own associates and content partners what they are grateful for. When we asked our dear friend Mary Engelbreit what she’s grateful for, we had a feeling that art would play a major role, but we are just continually impressed by her humility:

{I’m thankful I can draw and that people seem to like those drawings. I’m really thankful for the constant support from the very beginning, not just for my drawing but in every aspect of my life, from my parents and my family.}

In the spirit of inspiring gratitude in others, Mary was kind enough to design this free printable quote for you to print, hang up and enjoy in your own home or office!

Mary Engelbreit Free Printable Gratitude Quote

Download your free printable gratitude quote here!

Feeling inspired to say thank you? Make your ThankList today!


In honor of Nurses Day – She walked with me: Meghan’s ThankList

Today’s ThankList story comes from a member of our social media team who has been very touched by all of the personal stories our fans have shared since we launched the #ThankList movement. She shares this intensely personal story in honor of Nurses Day (May 6) and Nurses Week (May 6-12).

Meghan's ThankList

When I was 29, I had the pleasure of joyfully announcing to my husband (and a little while later, my family) that we were expecting our first child—a baby we had planned for, hoped for and very much wanted. But a little over halfway through my pregnancy, we received a blow we never expected: our beloved child was not going to make it.

To any mothers out there, I don’t think I need to describe to you just how crushed we were. More than five years later, sometimes words still escape me to describe the deep level of heartbreak we experienced during that time.

Our friends and family came to our sides and showed strength and love in our time of need. But each time I’ve thought about my  ThankList, after I mentally run through all of the friends and family who have been there for me over the years, two additional women come to my mind—the two nurses that cared for my sad little family when we had to say goodbye to our beloved daughter.

How do you say thank you to the people who held your hand through something like that? Who guided you through a devastating process of laboring and delivering a baby that was not coming home? Who placed your peaceful baby into your arms, took the only family photos you will ever have and then witnessed your final goodbyes?

The truth? I’m not sure I did say thank you. At least, not adequately. And it’s bothered me for more than 5 years.

I’m sure there were mumbled words. I remember carefully selecting and then trying to write an eloquent thank you note. But if I’m really being honest, I’m not sure I even sent it. I was so traumatized; I cannot remember actually being able to figure out how to apply a stamp and mail it.

However, a few months ago (in what I can only describe as a serendipitous twist of fate) my ThankList moment came.

You see, in the years that passed, I have become dedicated to improving women’s birth experiences and walking with them when they need support. And one such day, I received a phone call from a high school friend who was being induced with a healthy baby boy, but was still apprehensive about how things were going. I offered to come to her side and she accepted.

After talking through her previous experiences with a traumatic miscarriage, how she was feeling about how the induction was going, etc… her nurse entered. We chatted about induction options and how my friend was feeling. And then suddenly I felt compelled to ask her nurse if she knew the two nurses who had cared for me years ago.

{It turns out, she was one of them—standing there right in front of me! The beautiful, generous, kind soul who walked with me in the darkness. Who gently handed me my baby and told me that I had a beautiful daughter. One of the only people in the world who ever got to experience my sweet baby girl and see me—truly see me—as her mother.}

Five years passing allowed me to have the wherewithal to understand what she gave me—the gift of feeling validated as a mother. I can’t imagine the toll it must’ve taken on her to give so much and then turn around and care for other patients. To go home that night, having seen what my family had been through. I hopped right out of my chair, embraced her, and finally had my moment to thank her for what she did for my family.

{I told her that what she did mattered. That the actions she took that day allowed me to have peace with my experience. The peace to not only go on with life, but to help other mothers—and to be comfortable enough with my story to share it with the world.}

There is still one nurse on my list who deserves to hear the words, “thank you” from me—and I’m more determined than ever to make that happen.


Meghan today with her two happy, healthy daughters!

Thank you Chantel and the staff of Akron General Medical Center. Your work matters!

I share this story in honor of all of the mothers who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss and the kind people who walk with them in their time of need. Please remember to say thank you to the nurses who have made a difference in your life—even if it takes years to find the words.



Thanks Be to God: Karen’s ThankList

Thanks Be To God: Karen's ThankListBy Maria Isabella

Karen Michelle Miller has many reasons to be thankful. She is loved by a devoted husband and two beautiful daughters. She has a successful career as a gifted author, poet, and motivational speaker. And…she’s a recovering alcoholic/drug addict. Yes, she has much to be thankful for.

“I LIVE for Him, really,” says Karen. “He has given me another chance, and I am NOT going to waste it!”

It was almost exactly 10 years ago to the day that Karen found herself at rock bottom. She was escaping a sad, painful past while avoiding all the uncertainties of tomorrow. Alcohol had helped her cope since the age of 14, then drugs slowly took over. And unhealthy, life-destroying decisions were being made all along the way.

Suddenly, on that decidedly fateful day, while the deepest despair surrounded her, Karen heard a loud voice. “What the hell are you doing?!” it boomed. Karen turned around. To her shock, no one was there.

{“Something told me that voice was shouting down from the heavens to knock some sense into me before it was too late,” she confessed.}

So Karen mustered the little strength she had left and slowly, resolutely pushed aside her feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and self-doubt. She checked herself into a recovery home in order to give sobriety one more try—one last try. For the sake of her daughters.

“I am now 10 years clean and sober,” says Karen, beaming. “I am happy and content. That’s a BIG deal for me.”

Karen and sisters

Karen and her sisters (Photo courtesy of Karen Miller)


She goes on to add, “I believe with all my heart that ‘the voice’ I heard [that day] was, in fact, the voice of God. I am now fully committed to being a good mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend…AND to sharing hope with young women who are suffering, particularly from addiction and depression.”

When asked what she would say to God this very moment if she could, without even a moment’s hesitation, Karen replied, “THANK YOU. Please continue to guide me to do YOUR will and not mine.”

We deeply admire and respect Karen for her life-changing efforts and her altruistic determination to make a difference in other women’s lives. Her gratitude to God for all His gifts is just one more perfect example of how ThankList is showcasing the power of love and thankfulness.

Karen Michelle Miller wrote her first poem, featured in her newly released book, Words to Ponder About Life, Love and Men, while residing in a recovery home with 13 other women over 10 years ago. Today, she continues to share her message of hope via her Book, Facebook, and Twitter.

Karen Miller Book: Words to Ponder About Life, Love and Men


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Ideas

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Ideas

Teachers play an important role in our children’s success. And while their efforts should be praised every day, Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8) is a great time to call out their achievements and thank them for all they do.  Check out these fun and unique Teacher Appreciation Week gift ideas below to show your gratitude.

1. Teacher Thank You Gift by Our Family Journey

Teacher Thank You Gift by Our Family Journey

2. Back to School Supply Cake by Stephanie Lynn

Back to School Supply Cake by Stephanie Lynn

3. Homemade Teacher Gift: Crayon Monogram by A Mom With A Lesson Plan

Homemade Teacher Gift: Crayon Monogram by A Mom With A Lesson Plan

4. Teacher Appreciation Blooms by Bloom Designs Online / Skip To My Lou

Teacher Appreciation Blooms by Bloom Designs Online / Skip To My Lou

5. DIY Apple Jar Tutorial by The 36th Avenue

DIY Apple Jar Tutorial by The 36th Avenue

6. Teacher Appreciation Gardening Gift by U-Create / Skip To My Lou

Teacher Appreciation Gardening Gift by U-CreateCrafts / Skip To My Lou

7. Paper Cup Apple Gift Wrap by willowday

Paper Cup Apple Gift Wrap by willowday

Have you heard about our ThankList documentary series? Watch what happens when  Waliek and Chaun are given the opportunity to thank the teachers who changed their lives forever.


Gratitude and Grief: Kristin’s ThankList

Gratitude and Grief: Kristin's ThankList

Photo credit: Brooke Collier Photography

When we launched the ThankList, we knew that we would likely hear compelling stories of gratitude from others. Once the concept of a ThankList is explained, it’s hard not to start creating the mental list of those who have had an impact on our lives. But the outpouring of support for our mission and desire from our fan base for their stories and voices to be heard has been truly humbling.

One of those conversations revealed a compelling, inspiring story that we wanted to share here with you.

In 2007, Kristin Meekof’s husband Roy was diagnosed with advanced stage adrenal cancer. Yet somehow, despite the grim prognosis and enduring an aggressive treatment schedule, Kristin found Roy not only accepting of his diagnosis, but relishing in moments of gratitude for the life he’d been given.

He never said, “Why me?”. Instead, he said, “Why not me?”

Despite being widowed at age 33 only 8 weeks after his initial diagnosis, it was Roy’s open heart and attitude of gratitude that has stayed with her. She says that he taught her that gratitude is the answer to nearly every question. Inspired by both his spirit and her ability to turn something tragic into something beautiful, we had a few questions we wanted to ask about Roy and his legacy.

Q: Tell us a little about your husband Roy.

Kristin: Roy was a middle school teacher, a veteran, and a gentle soul. My husband lived with an open heart and very much believed in living in the light, literally and figuratively. Before we were married we exchanged gratitude lists with each other via email, so thankfulness wasn’t something foreign to him. It was part of his being.

{Gratitude when you are diagnosed with terminal cancer

is bringing light out of a very dark well.

In this light of gratitude is the place that he dwelled. }


Q: Do you think he knew how he changed you? Did you ever get to say thank you?

Kristin: I would like to think that he knew that his presence, our marriage, our friendship changed me, but I don’t know if he knew how deep it was. Since we were in the habit of exchanging gratitude lists, something we started before we were married, I did say thank you.

And since my late husband’s death, I make it a point to give a handwritten thank you cards to my dear friends because their kindness matters to me. It is important to put these things in writing and thank you cards are a beautiful gesture of kindness.

Q: How has your life changed because of his perspective?

Kristin: With gratitude comes an openness and a sense of bravery. About three years ago, I decided that I wanted to co-write a book for widows of all ages, and I interviewed many widows about their experiences. The widows were incredibly generous with their time and thoughts and for each of them I am eternally grateful. It is all bittersweet because the impetus for this research and book is loss, but gratitude made it possible. Gratitude opened the door for this book project and as a result I’ve formed some incredible friendships.

Q: If you could speak to him today, what would say?

Kristin: I would tell him that I still think of him daily and continue to love him. I would thank him for teaching me that gratitude is the answer to nearly every question.

I think he would be surprised to know that I co-wrote a book, and then I’d explain that I decided to write the book for widows so that they would feel less alone. Then, I would talk about all of the beautiful people who helped me with this three year project, and some of the gorgeous opportunities that I’ve been given.

Kristin is a Huffington Post contributor and co-author of the book A Widow’s Guide to Healing: Gentle Support and Advice for the First 5 Years. As a part of her dedication to helping grieving widows around the world, she’s traveled to Kenya with a charity organization.


Cute thank you gift ideas

Cute Ways To Say Thank You

People feel the urge to express appreciation for many different reasons, but as our recent survey results show, people often forget to express gratitude… and regret it! That’s why we’ve pulled together some easy, yet totally adorable thank you gift ideas from some fantastic blogs. Whether it’s a teacher, coworker, friend or family member, showing gratitude is an easy way to make a huge impact!

1. ‘Thanks a Latte’ Thank You Gift Tags by Kinder Craze

Thanks a Latte gift tags by Kinder Craze

2. Free Mini Thank You Notes by the Cardstore Blog

Free Mini Thank You Notes by the Cardstore Blog

3. It “Mint” a Lot Thank You Jar by Happy Money Saver

It "Mint" A Lot Thank You Jar by Happy Money Saver

4. “Simply the Best” Lemonade Tags by Queen B & Me

"Simply The Best" Lemonade Tags by Queen B & Me

5. The Art of The Surprise Note by The Thinking Closet

The Art of the Surprise Note by The Thinking Closet

What creative ways do you like to use to say thank you?


Behind the scenes: our ThankList launch event

On Tuesday, March 24, we introduced ThankList to the world by cohosting an event with Huffington Post at the New Museum in NYC.

A panel discussion on the benefits of practicing gratitude took center stage to kick off this memorable event. The panel was moderated by chair, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, Arianna Huffington, and the panelists included Deepak Chopra, actor, director and producer Elizabeth Banks, psychologist  Dr. Randy Kamen, New York Times Best-Selling author Gabby Bernstein and two-time Oscar award-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple.

This event also served as a premiere of an inspiring and compelling documentary series by Barbara Kopple in partnership with American Greetings that followed five real people as they created and fulfilled a their own personal ThankList. You can watch their stories here and see how two little words can mean so much.

For a closer look at the event, check out the photos below:

Photo credits: Phillip Angert

Now it’s your turn! Join us in our efforts to make the world a more thoughtful and caring place on where you can make your own personalized video and view what others are grateful for.


Introducing #ThankList

Introducing ThankList by American GreetingsAs you well know, American Greetings is rooted in helping to create meaningful connections. For more than 100 years, we‘ve been bringing people together through expressions of happiness, laughter and love through our words and artwork. Recently, we decided to take our efforts to make the world a more thoughtful and caring place to the next level.

And that’s why we’d like to invite you to join our ThankList movement! It‘s an initiative that challenges people to create a list of individuals they want to thank for helping to shape their life. They can be family, friends, teachers, mentors… anyone who has made a difference in your life. The ThankList is a catalyst for expressing gratitude and heartfelt forum in which to do so.

We’re all familiar with a bucket list–a list of things you want to do before you die. But a ThankList? That’s a list of important people in your life that you want to thank to feel alive. 

ThankList Definition

How can you join in the #ThankList movement?  It’s as simple as saying two words–thank you.

We created a digital experience that encourages everyone to start practicing gratitude by writing their own ThankList. Via written word or a dynamic personal video, all messages of thanks are aggregated into a collective, never-ending ThankList. You can also watch a compelling documentary series by two-time OSCAR® winning filmmaker, Barbara Kopple that follows five real people as they created and fulfilled a their own personal ThankList.

Lastly, you can also join in by using #ThankList on Twitter or Instagram and sharing your stories of gratitude. We’ll be sharing your stories here.


The importance of gratitude


The Importance of GratitudeWhere has the gratitude gone?

If it’s true that we learned everything we need to know in kindergarten, than it seems a large part of our society needs to head back to the classroom to be reminded of the pillars of human kindness. In our modern tech world, our heads are looking down at our phones and we’re more disconnected than ever! In fact, a 2014 Civility in American study conducted by Weber Shandwick, Powell Tate and KPC Research revealed that 95% of Americans believe we have a civility problem in America. The good news is that the same study showed that 87% of people are willing to do something about it!

Here at American Greetings, we’d like to present a remedy for a rude world–gratitude. We’re on a mission to put gratitude back on the map and make the world a more thoughtful and caring place one ‘thank you’ at a time. To start, we’ve partnered with Harris Poll and learned some eye-opening statistics about gratitude in America.

Infographic: The Importance of Thank You

Were you surprised to read that people are craving to hear the words, “thank you?”

Help us make a difference! Visit and together we can make the world a little bit nicer if we simply remember to show gratitude, share, and above all—hold hands and stick together.


Ways to give back


During the holiday season, charities across the US see a large increase in the number of volunteers.  As people get into the giving spirit during the holidays, they find great ways to give back, whether it’s donating their time or money to an organization. Unfortunately, after the holiday excitement has come and gone, charities and non-profits oftentimes find themselves still needing enough volunteers.

So if you’re still looking for a New Years resolution that doesn’t involve a daily commitment, but can provide a lasting impact, we’d like to suggest setting a goal for giving back this year.

Need some help getting started? Here are some great ways to get involved in your community:

  • The gift of time – find a non-profit that resonates with something you’re passionate about, whether it’s doing a craft with local nursing home residents, caring for animals at a pet shelter, or putting together packages for military members overseas. By selecting a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, you’re more likely to follow through and the time you spend there will be even more meaningful.
  • Power in numbers – if your skill set includes event planning and a large network of friends and family, consider serving as an fundraising organizer! Community bake sales, rummage sales, and spaghetti dinners not only bring people together, but they can bring in surprising amounts of money for important causes.
  • Get moving – If you enjoy running or walking, there are a number of opportunities to raise money for charity while enjoying the great outdoors. Check to see if your favorite non-profit hosts a run or search for runs here.
  • Just get giving – If you find yourself time-strapped, non-profit organizations are always looking for financial contributions. This allows them to allocate dollars to the places that are most needed, but may not get as much attention. Websites like Guidestar can help you select organizations that are well-known for their fiscal responsibility.

If you still find yourself struggling to find something that’s a good fit for you, check out, a site dedicated to helping you find local charity and volunteer opportunities!

What are some other ways to give back throughout the year to show gratitude for all of the blessings in our lives?


Our favorite inspirational quotes

It’s no secret that we’re a company that respects the power that words can have to strike an emotional chord. Each day, we work to help people find just the right words to express love, celebrate happy occasions and show support for those going through a tough time.

It seems only fitting that we share with you these inspirational quotes that we’ve found meaningful over the years–whether they inspired us to be a better friend, spouse, or human in general–we certainly think they’re worth sharing!

Here are some of our favorite inspirational quotes:

What words inspire you? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @amgreetings and we may turn it into beautiful artwork!



What to Write in a Thank You Note


The holidays brought so much joy–from glorious gifts to fabulous dinners—and there’s so much to be grateful for. The perfect way to show it, of course, is with a thank you note. Here’s some great tips and suggestion on what to write in a thank you note!

Begin with a greeting: Be sure to  include everyone. If a gift was from a family, include the children as well, and name both the host and hostess.

Be specific: “Thank you for…” or “I really appreciate…” Be expressive, too, and include complimentary adjectives. So, if you’re thanking someone…

  • For Gifts — Let them know how you feel about the gift, or how you plan to use it. For example: “I’m so touched you remembered my favorite…!” or “It looks perfect in…”
  • For Gift Cards —  If you’ve already spent it—or know what you’re going to buy with it—let the receiver know. If you don’t know, tell them how much you’re looking forward to shopping with it. If you received money, it’s polite to say thank you for their “generosity” or “kindness,” and then how you plan on using it.
  • For a Party Be sure to compliment the host/hostess on a specific food, decoration, or even refer to a shared conversation. For example, “It was great hearing about your kids-you have to be so proud of them!”

Include well wishes: Add a message about the receiver, not the gift. Wish them well or express your hope that you’ll see them soon— make it sincere. This thoughtful touch is always appreciated!

 Add a perfect finish: Say thanks again and close the note, using words appropriate for the relationship, such as Love, Warm or Kind Regards, Sincerely, etc.

So, don’t put off those thank you’s!  After all, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William  Arthur Ward