When I was younger, my Mum used to make me sit down and write thank you letters to anyone who had bought me anything for Christmas or for my birthday. And it wasn’t enough to just say thank you. I had to write about what I was doing/going to do with any money that had been given, why I liked whatever gift it happened to be, and if that didn’t fill the space – what I had done to celebrate. I hated it. The best bit used to be getting to use the notecards and stationery that I didn’t normally have use for.
As I got older, I stopped writing them to my friends, arguing that they wouldn’t bother so why should I. As I got even older, I managed to whittle down those I was writing to by cutting those I would phone or email. Gradually, the list got shorter. Then suddenly, one day I discovered I was the only person in my family still writing thank you letters. I don’t think it’s something that many people do. Of course, people are grateful for what they receive and will usually show it in one way or another, but there are very few who will sit down and take the time to write a short note of appreciation.
There are times when I have thought about not bothering, have wondered who would care if I stopped. But I haven’t yet. I think part of it is habit – I’ve been doing it for so long it’s automatic. Part of it is now an enjoyable rather than tedious task. As I am now an adult myself, I probably have a more meaningful relationship with the people I am writing to and as a result can get enjoyment about sharing my news with those who don’t have a Facebook account. I love receiving communication. A lengthy email is one thing to be savoured, but a hand written letter is even better. I like to hope that those I’m writing to feel the same way. I am also still a sucker for lovely stationery.
How do you say thank you? Do you make a point of saying thank you, or do you just throw it into a conversation or rushed text? If you don’t usually write thank you letters, give it a go and see what the reaction is. I’d like to bet you make at least one person’s day.