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