The Art of Saying ‘Thank You’

January 18, 2017
By: Andrea

sending thank you cards

sending thank you notes
thank you notes

I don’t recall how many wedding presents my husband and I gave this past year. A half dozen,  maybe more? But I can easily count how many thank you cards we got in return: two. Just two.

Look, I know. I’m not perfect. I’m not even always the nicest person. And I am quite certain I overlook other niceties my mother tried to teach me growing up. But thank you cards are one of those civilities that she must have drilled hard into us. Because if I don’t write them, my guilty conscience eats at me until I do. Eats at me good.                   

Recently, I went out of my way to do something nice for someone. Like, we are talking over-the-top, out-of-my-way type of nice. For someone I hardly knew. I don’t know why I expected a thank you card. But I did. Weeks passed. Then months. Nothing. I’m not one to hold grudges, but it kind of irks me to this day. I know, I know. I need to let it go…

I don’t ever want my own kids to be the ones who forget to say thank you, who are ungrateful or entitled. Even though they are still young, I’ve been teaching them that “thank you” cards and saying “thank you” are a must. So, today I sat down with my little girls and we whipped out our paper and crayons. We put some serious work into a few hand-drawn thank you cards. I mean, as much serious work as a three year old and her busy one and a half year old little sister can do. See them working hard in those photos up there (they desperately needed their hair combed)! They really put some big effort into making those cards look “so pretty.” They spent a lot of time doing it.

Since they were old enough to understand, I’ve been telling them how important it was to write thank you notes to their grandparents for the kind gifts they received for birthdays and Christmas. They always take such good care of us and we need to tell them how much we appreciate it. Today was finally the day to get our Christmas thank you notes written (I know, Christmas was nearly a month ago). Those little homemade cards included pictures of Elmo, fish, and the words “mom,” “dad,” and “Max” (their uncle’s dog). Since that’s all my three year old can write. I inserted a little translation/note of my own when they were done making their cards look pretty.

In the midst of sorting through piles of bills, mailers for businesses vying to do your taxes, or the latest Target ad, someone will be so glad to see a little note from you and even more glad that someone was grateful for something they did. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You don’t have to go out and spend serious cash on extravagant cards. Just use what you already have, even if it’s construction paper and crayons.

My point, if it wasn’t already clear, is this: saying thank you is a big deal, but it doesn’t have to be hard. It can be face to face. In a hand-written note. Even in an email or a phone call. Those few words can go a long way. It’s something I am trying my darnedest to drill into these moldable little ones.

“Thank you” notes are becoming a lost art. Let’s bring it back. Telling someone you’re grateful shouldn’t be something so overlooked. However you choose to do it, just make an effort to show your sincere gratitude. You can never go wrong.

Thank you. Thank you, for reading this.

Author: Andrea

Former news reporter and Capitol Hill press guru, wife, mom, and pastry addict.

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  • Reply Celisse January 20, 2017 at 4:51 am

    I’m with you! Every time I send a thank you card, it increases my gratitude because I’m reminded of the good people in my life. People are also really taken aback (in the best way) when they receive a little note in the mail – truly, saying thank you appears to be a dying tradition.

    • Reply Andrea January 21, 2017 at 5:06 am

      I know. Why are common courtesies slipping away? Thank goodness people like you still exist!

  • Reply Selina January 20, 2017 at 5:15 am

    I love this. I get anxious when I don’t write them…. for everything!!!
    After the girls birthdays I sit down like their secretary taking dictation. And then they sign them.
    Although, with Edels birthday being right before Christmas chaos I always get a bit behind.
    Oh, also, the Christmas card I sent you got returned! Will you text me the correct address!!!

    • Reply Andrea January 21, 2017 at 5:07 am

      The world needs more Selinas!

  • Reply Lee January 31, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    I’ve recently found your blog and love it! I couldn’t agree more with your post. People are becoming so rude and it’s just sad. In my opinion, the only excuse to not write a thank you note is if death is involved or severe illness…where one’s energy is so absorbed in grief and logistics that I honestly don’t even want someone to take any extra time and energy to thank me when they should only be focused on themselves or the person they’re caring for/have lost. But for everything else, you better write me or at least call me and say THANK YOU. And, texting does not count. 😉 I would love to collaborate on a civility post for my parenting solutions blog, Waters + Bennett. Please let me know if you’re interested. Best, Lee

    • Reply Andrea February 2, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      Hi Lee! We’d love to chat about a collaboration. I sent you an email!

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