Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Lost Art of Thank You (Notes)

Today I wrote three thank you notes and as I was writing them it dawned on me (not for the first time) how doing such a thing is almost obsolete these days. It's something I don't understand, why people have stopped expressing their gratitude in a formal way in a personal or social setting. I am aware that thank you notes (or emails) are still common in the business world or after an interview, but why don't why apply the same manners to our everyday lives?

I guess we often neglect to consider that despite people doing nice things for us (having us over for dinner, hosting us, giving us a gift, or even just taking us into consideration and engaging in a kind act on our behalf) that they don't actually HAVE to do these things, it's still an act of kindness. If someone takes time out of their time and their lives to make our world a bit better than it seems practically inexcusable to not express gratitude properly.

Growing up, my mother was a drill sergeant about manners. Actually, not even growing up, she still is. We were-and still are expected to behave a certain way. One thing I remember very distinctly is how she got us to write out notes---she made us really appreciate. I was not allowed to touch my Christmas gift or cash a birthday check until a note was written and sealed in an envelope. "You are not," she's insist, "allowed to touch that barbie doll until you have thanked Auntie X for it." As I child, i (obviously) hated it. I thought it was annoying, but somewhere along the line it became second nature for me. I can't NOT write a thank you note now. I obviously don't have to anymore, my mothers not breathing down my neck, nor do I do it because I feel like I have to or that i want to impress someone with my manners. I write them because I genuinely mean it, and because I'm big on appreciation. I, like evreyone, likes to feel appreciated, and in turn when someone does something for me, I want them to know that I their consideration and thoughfulness meant a great deal to me.

My friends sometimes call me and tell me that i make them look bad, by sending these notes to their parents. My ex boyfriend told me that after four years of dating i didn't need to send his parents a note every time they took me out for dinner or I stayed at their house (I still did) I've had people tell me that these notes aren't necessary, but me they are.

I don't know what the purpose of this post really is. I guess when writing these notes I just thought about how easy it was to do. Each note took three minutes to write. Going to the post office for stamps and posting will take five minutes. that's less than 15 minutes out of my day, yet I know despite the small of energy it took me to fulfill this task, that the recipient will feel genuine warmth when they open their mailbox and see that they have an envelope that is not only a NOT a bill, but also let's them know that their kindness isn't overlooked, expected or taken for granted. (Plus my mother still tells me in hushed terse tones when someone fails to thank her properly for something they should've)

Let's spend more time in our lives focusing on the good, the positive, the things that make us smile and the people who are behind it. Maybe you don't have to write thank you notes all the time (it could get ridiculous) but we should be more openly appreciative. After all, it's the little things, right?

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