Thank-You Notes: In or Out?

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3.   Mention seeing the person again.

Please keep me updated on your work plans, and definitely let us know next time you’re in the DC area.

4.   And . . . that’s it!

Thanks again, Josie

Once you’ve got the hang of it . . .

If, like me, you’ve traditionally been a thank-you note stickler, you may want to consider varying the traditional model.

I remember when my brother gave my husband and me one of the nice pans listed on our wedding registry—still one of my favorite, most-used wedding gifts. But, you understand, my brother does not stand on ceremony. The pan was not wrapped. Maybe it was wrapped up in newspaper or the packing paper from the store. Fine. Not my style—I love wrapping paper and doing up gift bags—but fine.

Let’s think about it. Wouldn’t I rather get a nice gift in crummy packaging, than a useless piece of twaddle under beautiful wrapping? The presentation is not is important as the substance of the gift.

This prioritization of meaning over and above pretense carried into my brother’s attitude regarding the theoretically required thank-you note.

He said, “Don’t write me a note. Just give me a phone call some time.”

In the context of our relationship—siblings living in different states—the phone call to catch up, maybe talk about the meals being cooked in the pan he gave us, was more meaningful than the formulaic note.

Here’s my rule of thumb: Apply some extra thought and effort into expressing gratitude.

Mix it up

  • Phone a friend, if, like my brother, he or she would appreciate a nice chat. (And if, like me, you really enjoy crossing the thank-you’s off your list, begin by declaring: “This is your thank-you phone call!”)
  • Get kids in on the action.
    • Use their art as the thank-you card. (Solving the problem of what to do with all the masterpieces they create!)
    • Text a photo of your child using the gift or wearing the outfit. Or even post on Facebook or Instagram it if your friend might enjoy some social media attention. (I hardly know what Snapchat is, but go for it, by all means.)
  • Be open to acknowledging someone in the way that person would feel appreciated . . . which might mean (gasp!): no official Thank You.

Shortly after our son was born, a friend brought our family dinner one night and specifically told me: “Do not write me a thank-you note.”

With that permission, I sent thank-you texts (“You’re a livesaver. Dee-lish!”), usually with the latest baby pic of the day, to those who brought us sanity-saving newborn meals.=

Because what those amazing helpers wanted, if you can believe it, was actually to be helpful. They wanted to see that my family benefited, not that I added another thing to my to-do list.

Next- Create Space for Gratitude