Being thankful

I’m writing a thank you note to my neighbors who fed me a beautiful meal on Friday.  I just sent a thank you note to my aunt and uncle for hosting me last weekend in Maryland.  And I’m still working on a thank you to my friend who helped me set up this blog. 

Am I telling you this to make you feel bad about all the thank you notes you haven’t sent?  No. I’m writing about them to discuss one of the few remaining reasons most folks send any sort of snail mail these days.  For the big events–like weddings and baby showers–we know we’re supposed to mail handwritten notes for the gifts we receive.  Email or phone calls just won’t do.  So we write them.  I’ve heard folks talk about sending thank you notes as a chore they need to just get through, maybe with a little help from a bottle of wine.

I’d like to suggest that we all write thank you notes more often and use them as an opportunity to really be thankful.  When I write notes to my neighbors for a wonderful dinner, I’m thankful for their friendship, generosity and gifts in the kitchen.  When I thank my aunt and uncle for their hospitality, I’m thankful for having a family that actually enjoys having me around. 

It’s so easy for me to become grumpy about my pile of to-do’s, a pile that despite my best efforts always gets bigger.  It’s also easy to add writing and sending thank you notes to that list of chores. But, in recent years especially, I have tried to write thank you notes whenever I feel grateful for a gift, a friendship, a kindness.  It’s a bit like meditation.  The act of writing down my gratitude allows me to put aside other things for a moment, focus on a happy memory, and just be thankful.  It’s actually fun.

Not only do I enjoy it, but others enjoy it when their kindness results in a bit of fun in their mail box and concrete proof that their actions were truly appreciated.  Below is a thank you note I received in 1984.

It’s from a teacher who thanked me for giving her decorative soaps for Christmas.  I remember the beautiful soaps and I also remember that it was my mom who deserved the thanks for buying and wrapping them. So I didn’t even deserve the thank you note!

But I’ve kept the note for all these years, because it shows me how much being appreciated can mean to someone.  And I don’t mean me…

My sister found the note at some point and so wanted to be the recipient of that gratitude that she scratched out my name and penciled in her own.  Voila! Instant thank you note to Jessie.  This little note reminds me that everyone likes to feel appreciated.

In my quest to save snail mail, I’m sending a lot of thank you notes. It’s a quick and easy way to take stock of all I have to be thankful for and to let people know how much their thoughtfulness means to me. 

Do you have any thank you notes to write?

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