A letter in the mail is a gift! Thank you notes can be an art form. Consider the stationary, the penmanship (you can see personality in someone’s handwriting), the formulation of thoughtful words, even the choice of stamp is a special detail. A hand-written card is a little treasure and it is not forgotten.
Photo: Vermeer’s Mistress and Maid from my favorite museum in the world, the incredible Frick Collection in New York . Notice the writing set and quill, this truly was an art form.
Writing a thank you note lets the recipients know that you took the time to sit down and think of them; it’s sincere and thoughtful. It’s about thanking people for thinking about you and your family even if the gift is not your cup of tea!
In this time of texting, facebooking, twittering, and e-mailing, it seems so simple to just take the easy way out and say thanks electronically. Anything not in your own hand has an emotional distance and can seem impersonal. This makes hand-written notes rare and much appreciated. A thank you note shows the giver how much you value them. Older generations definitely expect them. I always write one to my grandmother first! It’s respectful and considerate to put forth the effort. Can you imagine the disappointment when the person who hand knitted your child a sweater is thanked by an e-mail with smiley faces?
After Christmas, you don’t feel like doing much of anything. You’ve had the in-laws, survived the Christmas mess, made and cleaned up many meals, and slowly want to go into hibernation after too many egg nogs and entertaining. But, I find if I don’t do it right away my balance is off and I can’t sleep. I like to have my all my ducks in a row. My mantra for most things is very “Nike”! “Just do it!” A late note is better than no note at all, but it’s probably best to write them as soon as possible. I can whip a thank you note out best if I don’t contemplate too much about what I’m going to say. I have a little formula that’s similar to what I teach my second graders: Greeting, express gratitude, share how you will use the gift, add something personal, thank again, and regards. Giving thanks doesn’t have to be a chore if you make the effort to keep it interesting.
It seems we are raising a generation of technical wizards! Those wizards need to know how to use a pen and attempt nice handwriting in this information age. After the holiday break my second grade class will begin learning cursive. This is a good time to get them to write thank you notes because they’re just dying to try out their new cursive hand writing. Think back to the times of quills! I have a copy of the Declaration of Independence in my classroom. The children are always in awe of the tiny and very beautiful handwriting.
Everyone likes to being appreciated. When friends and family see you took the time to thank them with a nice note, they’re more likely to give an encore performance. A tip I would give to my second grade classroom (but I think it works for everyone) is to write honestly. The truth is always more interesting, even if it’s obvious it was a regift! We can all find our inner “Pollyanna” and discover something about a gift to be glad about!
A thank you note is one of the loveliest ways to share our love and appreciation for someone. A warm and heartfelt thanks is like a hug in the mail. It is gracious and the right thing to do, but also makes the writer feel good.
Here are some ideas to make your thank you cards more interesting:
1. Personalized M&M’s thank yous are a fun! http://www.mymms.com/
2. If you have left over Christmas cards, put a photo of your children playing with what that person got them.
3. Have your child draw a picture to go with the note, it’s personal and your child will feel good about participating in the thanks.
4. Design your own thank you card on Kodak gallery and fill it with pictures of Christmas morning. http://www.kodakgallery.com
Ashley Cooley is a native North Texan, wife and mother of two, second grade teacher, dancer, Julia Child devotee, University of Alabama Alumni, and certified Pilates instructor featured in the Sept/Oct issue of Pilates Style. Ashley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.