Once upon a time (because that’s how all good stories start), I read an etiquette article about Thank You notes. The author was waxing eloquent about proper wording and correct timing, but she made one comment at the very end that has stuck with me – even though I’ve forgotten the rest of the article.
I seem to recall that she was answering readers questions or something, and someone had asked, “What act or gift rates a Thank You note, and for which acts or gifts can you get by with just sending an email or saying ‘Thanks’ in person?”
(No, of course that wasn’t the exact wording, but I figured saying, “the question was something about, you know, thank you notes, and gifts, and you know, when you should send one or not, and you know, stuff like that”….would probably sound rather….you know….stupid.)
I have always remembered her response: “If you think that maybe you should send a Thank You note… you should.”
Although, I don’t always listen to my inner Emily Post, I have tried to follow that advice ever since.
If someone does something for me that touches me to the point that I contemplate undertaking the arduous task of sending them a handwritten note of thanks, then that person certainly deserves my effort.
Every year, I spend a portion of my Christmas Vacation writing out Thank You notes for the gifts my students gave me.
I try to make each of them special and unique because each of my students are special people with unique talents and abilities (…and you never know…they might compare notes…)
“Thank you for the beautiful scarf! I will certainly be warm and stylish this winter!” or “I love my new mug! So, I’m ‘The World’s BEST Teacher!’? Who knew!” and my favorite: “A gift card to Starbucks?! You really do know me well! Thank you.”
Sometimes it’s a challenge to come up with just the right words for a gift, and sometimes I wonder if my gratitude is even noticed.
I’ve contemplated giving up my yearly ritual, but something always stops me. …What if no one else ever shows this child how to be thankful? …What if she’s nervous about what she gave me and wants to know if I like it? …What if I’m the only person to say something kind to him this season? …If I don’t demonstrate gratitude to my students…who will?
When I got to school today, there were two envelopes on my desk:
“I’m glad you liked your Christmas present. Thank you for the pretty card. You are my favorite teacher.” and, “Thank you for taking me to Starbucks. It was really nice. I had fun.”
They wouldn’t win any essay contests, and one of them really is past the polite deadline for Thank You notes, but suddenly my day was a little bit brighter, and I had a strong desire to stop by the store on the way home to buy more stationery.