Writing Thank You Notes

I’m sure many of you have had the experience of your parents ‘forcing’ you to do something as a child only to appreciate the teaching and the lesson as an adult. Here’s one of these ‘forced’ learning experiences.

Every child is taught to say please and thank you. My parents went further and insisted we write a thank you note to the gift giver. It was torture and I excelled at dawdling. “Why?” I asked my mother when the time came to write a thank you for a birthday or Christmas gift. My mother would reply that it was the polite thing to do. Then she went on to explain the relational benefits of writing a thank you instead of just saying thank you.

She taught me that a thank you note is an opportunity to express, in writing, appreciation for the action of the giver who has thought about you and taken the time to acknowledge a milestone in your life or a celebration. My mother would then refer to me to the etiquette rules of people like Ann Landers who gave guidelines regarding how much time you had to send a thank you note.

She taught me that my grandmother is now alone after my grandfather’s death and a card in the mail will cheer her. A card to my grandmother will let her know that I am thinking of her as well. She taught me to make mention of the gift and how I will use it or what I had purchased with a cash gift.

She taught me that a handmade thank you card along with a drawing would be most appreciated.

So I struggled through this period of my life only to realize the importance of this lesson as I grew older. I went on to teach my daughters about the importance of thank you notes and told them about my push back around this lesson. Now my six year old grandson is being taught the importance of the thank you note.

In a day and age when we can easily send a thank you by email, the thank you note sent by post is still the most meaningful expression of our thanks. A small note covers a lot of ground regardless of one’s age and is a great teaching tool. We as adults have already experienced the warmness a letter or card in the mail gives us even before we have opened it. Imagine being a child and receiving a thank you note from a grandparent. With a thank you note, both the gift giver and receiver have the opportunity to show their respect and love for the other person and their actions.

The practice of sending a thank you note to friends and among the generations can help slow down our very busy lives and help us be mindful of the importance of relationships.