Forgotten Family Arts: The Thank You Note

The world seems to change at an alarming rate. Just yesterday I thought of a mouse as a tiny furry animal; today a mouse is a near-obsolete piece of technology used with a desktop computer. I remember listening to records-the flat ones that required a record player with a needle to play. Today, we simply download music to our IPhones and put head phones in our ears to shut out the world. These changes have resulted in some lost arts. For instance, storytelling seems to be replaced with TV. Imaginative games of cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians are replaced by video games like “Assassin.” And, when was the last time you hand wrote a letter rather than using email, twitter, texting, or Word?
The family has some lost arts as well. For instance, teaching our children to honor gift-givers with a thank-you seems to be a disappearing art. Remember writing those simple thank-you notes you would write as a child after birthdays and Christmas celebrations? Thank-you notes may still exist, but they are often texted, emailed, or simply typed on the computer. The joy of being honored with a hand-written “thank you” (made up of misshapen letters created by a 5 year old) next to a simple picture far outweighs the emailed “thanks.” Preparing the hand-written, thoughtful “thank you” takes time. It honors the person who gave the gift, strengthening your relationship with them.
How do you write a thank you note? Start by getting some postcards or half-sized stationary. Stay away from full sheets because you want to write a simple “thank-you note,” not a novel. Grab a pen, not a pencil. You want your words of gratitude and honor to last longer than pencil markings. Now, what to write…
·         Begin by greeting the giver. A simple “Dear….”
·         Express your gratitude. Simply thank them for the gift. Statements like “Thank you for the beautiful shirt” or “I really appreciate the book you gave me.” If you received a gift of money, you may want to thank them for their “generosity” rather than the specific amount–“I appreciate the generous gift you sent” or “thank you for your kindness.”
·         Say something nice about the gift and how you will use it. People like to know that you have found the gift useful or helpful. So, let them know what you like about the gift or how you will use it. You might say things like, “The sweatshirt you gave me will really keep me warm on the cool nights this fall” or “I’ve been waiting to buy a new album and your kindness will allow me to do so.”
·         Make a personal connection. If you saw them at your birthday party, let them know how much you enjoyed seeing them. If you received the gift in the mail, let them know you think about them and note a time you hope to see them in the future.
·         Wrap it up. Thank them one more time for the gift. Finish up with a closing and your name–“Thinking of You, John” or “Love, Hanna” or “Yours Truly, Kaitlyn.”
Pretty simple, right? Come to think of it, I have fallen behind on “thank you notes,” too. This is an art I need to practice more myself. I think I’ll go get some cards right now so I’m ready to go. Thanks for the reminder.

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