Hold on … a thank you note is a gift? How can that be? Aren’t thank you notes obligatory responses? A dusty old custom? Painful to write but with serious consequence if not written?
Yes, some thank you notes fall into that camp. Thank you for dinner, thank you for the hand knitted car battery warmer, that sort of thing. But what about sending a thank you note that acknowledges some kind act or generosity? Those notes are as spontaneous as the acts themselves. Those notes are the ones that are treasured and the most rewarding to write.
A handwritten thank you note is noticed, appreciated and treasured. It is a meaningful expression of gratitude, and reflects the personality of the sender. Despite their social status, Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Jimmy Fallon are known for their handwritten thank you notes. The notes you write are just as important.
How do you like to be thanked? Do you tear up when you receive a text messaged “thx”? Is your preference a bottle of wine with a gift tag, a bouquet of flowers or a telephone call? What do you remember and why? What endures?
Do you purchase cello wrapped packets of cards from the ubiquitous dollar store and sign them with a pen from the dry cleaners, or do you have a collection of fine stationery on hand and write with a fountain pen? With the right tools expressing gratitude is a pleasure.
To write the perfect thank you note never worry about filling the vast expanse of paper real estate—a few, personal words will do the trick. There is no perfect script.
Is your handwriting hard to read? George Orwell’s large legacy of letters are full of scratched out words, but they are still treasured. Handwriting looks and feels better on fine paper.
Timing does matter. The rule of thumb for sending a thank you card is 3 days after the event although it is better to be late than not send a card at all. Like it or not, these unspoken social agreements are not ‘so last century’—they move us forward as we forge new relationships and strengthen old ones.
”We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” –Winston Churchill
A thank you note is truly a gift.