Just as I believe it is important to say “thank you,” I believe it is important to write a note of thanks. And, although I have been accused of being “old school,” when I say write a note of thanks, I mean actually writing a thank you note, not sending an email or a text. (Of course, thanking someone via email, text, or phone is better than not thanking him/her at all!) There are many occasions when it is appropriate to write a thank you note: when one has stayed as a overnight guest in someone’s home; when one has enjoyed a fine meal at someone’s home or as someone’s guest in a nice restaurant; when someone gives a gift; when someone does something out of the ordinary (such as giving my husband and me free concert tickets); or, in general, whenever one wants to express gratitude. I am proud to say I have never spent a night in someone’s home without writing what my mother used to call a “bread and butter note.” I have never received a gift (including gifts from business associates) that went unacknowledged. In fact, I keep boxes of blank note cards, often with scenic images on the front, so that I am ready at all times to say “thank you” in writing. When someone goes the extra mile (as was the case recently, when a roofer who has worked on our office roof drove a long distance to our house to perform an inspection and give us valuable advice, without charge), I say “thank you” in writing and also include a small gift as a token of my appreciation. I have a lot to be thankful for and I never miss the opportunity to tell the person(s) who have given me a gift how much I appreciate the gift, and more important, them. It only takes a few minutes to write a thank you note. Try it sometime.
It is interesting in today’s world of instant communications that some common courtesies are lost. As Melissa says, an email is better than nothing. But, it is likely that all of us receive gifts, services, favors, or other (often intangible) things that warrant an expression of gratitude. And, because instant communications prevail, the niceties of a handwritten, paper, thank you carries more weight than ever – because it stands out in a world with fewer written communications. It remains easy to send – the post office really does an amazing job moving the mail. But, we should never get too busy to take a few minutes to send a note. Parents and grandparents have often lamented the failure of children or grandchilden to send thank you notes – just ask Ann Landers or Dear Abby. Mine insisted, and I did. Sometimes it seemed harder than others, but I appreciate that I was taught to do this simple thing which can mean so much. As a result, sometimes we receive thank yous for the thank you. Whether it is in a personal or business context, be thankful, and show it. (The post office appreciates the business too!)