It takes hours to go through my keepsake stash and I don’t have the time to do so more than once a year. I’ve saved Valentines, personalized cards and letters, bibs from the first road races I ran, ticket stubs, formal invitations, playbills, my ID badge from when I volunteered at the state mental hospital for an Abnormal Psychology class, notes sent on frou-frou stationery from individuals who drafted statements like “I’ll always be there for you” mere months before they were nowhere to be found when they were needed the most.
The best recent addition to the collection comes from a co-worker who filled his Christmas card’s entire left-hand side with a series of beautiful handwritten sentences. When someone has had a uniquely positive impact on you, it doesn’t require much to make this person aware of it. The last time I saw my childhood dentist I basically relayed that I place him in the top tier of the most honorable human beings I’ve ever known. He, who might not hear explicitly heartfelt praise very often, looked ready to cry. If I have regular contact with people whose character, caliber, or contributions are above average in any way, I’ll tell them - and there’s usually that similar element of choked-up surprise on their end. They don't necessarily need the validation to continue on as themselves, but the immeasurable extra incentives that come with it stretch deep and far.