Over the last year, I’ve received a few notes, emails or texts that included the specific phrase, “I appreciate you.”

Prior to this year I don’t know if I’ve ever seen, said or received those exact words in any form of communication. Now, of course, it’s quite possible that only recently have I done anything worthy enough to receive such a warm and thoughtful collection of words.

Perhaps more likely is that this phrase is growing in its usage and I among many others are the lucky recipients of these three words that captures more deeply how much we value someone.

Previously we might have told someone “I appreciate it” referencing a specific act. Or to give thanks for someone’s ongoing effort we might say, “I really appreciate how much you’re doing.”

But to tell someone “I appreciate you” is by definition of the word appreciate to tell them “I recognize your full worth.” It is not time bound or connected to any one thing but a recognition one places on how much they value another person just as they are.

In an effort to see if this was all in my head or if this phrase’s use was actually growing in popularity, I stumbled upon this reddit forum grappling with the same question. It is interesting to see the mild and good-hearted debate that evolved. Some found it an elevated and more personal complement than “I appreciate it.” While others found it too personal to the point of being disingenuous.

Most did agree that its use is on the rise. Some thought it was an offspring of post-Covid yearning for connection, others suggested it’s been used in African-American culture for a long time and is now just being picked up by others. Some thought it was regional, others generational. One person suggested its popularity has sprung from the earnest mouth of Ted Lasso.

Regardless of its origin or whether saying it or hearing it may make some uncomfortable, there is something uplifting that in otherwise difficult times a phrase is growing in popularity that recognizes the value of another human being.

If inclined, tell someone you appreciate them. If not that’s okay. Hopefully soon enough someone will share that sentiment with you anyway.

On a completely separate and shameless note, if you’re looking for any last minute gift ideas, here are two from me to consider.

If you have a little one in your life, consider my New York Times best-selling children’s book, Three Little Engines as a last minute stocking stuffer. It’s a modern retelling of the Little Engine that Could story reminding us that we all have different journeys and an opportunity to help others if they get stuck on theirs. This year it was also released in Spanish as Las Tres Pequeñas Locomotoras.

For those adults in your life, who might appreciate a year-long gift of Monday reminders of what’s important in life, give them a free subscription to this newsletter. You can simply send them this email or this link saying “I appreciate you and thought you’d appreciate this.” Or, if you’d prefer,  send me their email address. I’ll add them to the list and send a personal note saying this was a gift from you.

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