By: Maralee McKee, Manners Mentor
Christmas has passed.
The parties are over. The gifts are unwrapped.
And whether the party was memorable or something you’d rather forget, and whether the gift made you sigh with an audible “Ahhh! It’s perfect!” or a silent “Why in the world?”, the other person deserves a thank you.
Sometimes it’s easy to gush over the party or gift we’re writing about. Sometimes we have to think hard to come up with what to write because we’re nicely giving them an A for effort rather than for results.
A lot of us already have thanked everyone in person or through text, email, voice-mail, or a phone call.
So who’s left to thank with a snail mail card?
There are three persons you want to thank with a note before you let too many days in the New Year pass. Doing so builds and maintains your relationships, is a tangible reminder of your gratefulness, and is a key component of living your life by the Gold Standard of actively respecting and honoring others instead of the cultural standard of merely interacting with them.
But First: Why a Handwritten Thank You Note?
Before I list the three people, you need to know that I’m really big on gratitude.
John Milton wrote, “Gratitude bestows reverence…changing forever how we experience life and the world.”
Gratitude takes whatever we have and makes it enough.
For the author of your card (you), writing your thankfulness on paper cements it in your mind.
And for the recipient of your card, holding and reading it cements your sentiments in the person’s heart and mind.
Sure, handwritten cards take some extra effort. But everything good takes effort. And being grateful and expressing it is worth far more than the ten minutes of time and effort it takes to handwrite a note.
When we’re grateful, we feel full. Content.
We stop looking outward for this or that — for things that will never make us feel complete no matter how much we find of whatever we’re looking for.
With all that said, you probably can imagine that I had a hard time limiting my list to three. In fact, the three aren’t three individuals, they’re three groups of people.
However, don’t let my post title number limit you. If it’s on your heart to write others, DO IT!
It’s impossible to be too thankful. I can’t imagine that anyone ever received a heartfelt thank you card and thought to themselves, “Would you look at this! Valorie’s a nut. She wrote me a note to let me know she appreciates me and is thankful for what I did.”
On the contrary.
The recipient’s inner dialogue goes more like, “Look at this! I didn’t know Valorie thought anything special about what I did. Wow! She’s great. I need to think of her more often when things come up this year.”
If you want help expressing gratitude so it doesn’t read like one of those notes written by people in a hurry to check “Write thank you notes” off their to-do list, here’s a post I wrote with the formula for writing heartfelt cards.
The 3 Persons You Really Should Write After-Christmas Thank You Notes to
1. Persons Who’ve Made a Positive Impact in Your Life:
In this case you’re thanking them for being part of your life, not simply for a gift or party (but be sure to mention any that you shared over Christmas). What better way to end or begin the year than by letting people know they had a positive impact on yours.
They can be persons you’re close with (friend or family member) or even someone you’ve never met but who nevertheless makes a difference.
I recently took out my stationery to write to two authors who are also bloggers. I’ve never met either of them, but both are mentors because I learn so much from what they write. In fact, they’ve both written things that have turned out to be answers to prayers.
I had been asking (OK, I had been worrying) over something I didn’t know the answer to, and then one day, ta-da! The answer to the exact question I had been praying about for months was there in perfect detail in the blog of THE Robert D. Smith.
That was about two months ago.
Then last week, out-of-the blue (Someone very wise taught me that when something good appears out-of-the-blue, it is a gift from Heaven.), a post appeared on the Manners Mentor Facebook wall from a lady I don’t know. (Her wall post isn’t technically a thank you note in the form we’re talking about, but she didn’t have my address, so she wrote to me the only way she could.)
In her wall post she wrote about my book and how it had resonated with her.
It changed her.
And now she would be able to pass along her new sense of identity to her children so they wouldn’t need to experience some of the feelings she had felt while growing up and had carried with her into adulthood and was unknowingly passing along to her children.
You see, she was like me at a point in my not-too-distant past.
And her hopes for her children are the same as my hopes for my children.
She, and all the other many, many people like us, was one I’d prayed my words would positively impact with every stroke of the keyboard as I wrote the book.
After I read her wall post…
I cried a lot.
They were tears of relief and happiness.
Then my husband came home, read her wall post, and he cried.
Reading her words of gratitude made all the 70-hour work weeks, the extra money spent on take-out food, the two weeks I had to spend away from my own children while writing, and everything else I did to birth the book worth it.
This precious stranger said, “You did good, Maralee.” That day I took it to heart for the first time even though the book came out last year. It now will reside there as a truth forever. And you know what? It could not have come at a more perfect time. (But that’s a story for another day.)
2. Persons you work with:
Maybe you work with them in an office Monday through Friday or volunteer with them in a neighborhood group or in a committee at church. You like what you do, and you know you couldn’t do it successfully without them. Let them know how much you appreciate them in writing.
If you know their mailing address, send the card there. If not, leave it on their desk at work, or hand it to them after the next committee meeting and ask them to read it later.
When hand-delivering cards, try to be discreet. You don’t want to leave someone feeling left out while you’re trying to thank another.
If your boss hosted a party during the holidays, make sure to send a thank you note to your boss. If it was a big affair, and you know that the assistant did a lot of the planning, send one along to that assistant, too.
You’ll stand out as a person who doesn’t take the kindness of others for granted. And that’s a great trait in an associate — or anyone.
3. A gift you received or a party you attended but haven’t thanked the person yet:
It’s never too late to say thank you, but there’s also no better time than now. You can write in your note, “You are so kind, and I can’t believe that it’s taken me this long to let you know how much I appreciate….”
If possible, write these notes at a time and place where your children or teens can see you doing it (and enjoying it!). The best way to teach is to lead by example, and if you want them to be adults who express gratitude easily, authentically, and often, they need to see you model it.
When they ask, “Whatcha doing, Mom?”, you can answer: “Honey, I’m writing a thank you note to Mrs. Derrick. She’s been so kind to treat us like family, accommodate our crazy schedules, bring Taylor over to help me, and host the Christmas breakfast she had for us. I wanted her to have something she could hold in her hand to tell her how much I appreciate her.”
The reply from your children might be just “Oh.”
But they’ve noticed.
They’ve stored it away in their memory bank.
And they’ve heard your reasons.
If you do it enough, they’ll do it just like Mom or Dad when they’re grown!
Of course, we also know the hard truth of being parents: If we don’t do it, then when our children are grown, they’ll not do it, just like Mom or Dad didn’t do it.
And expressing gratitude in a tangible and permanent way is too important of a thing for them not to experience the benefits of doing in their life.
You are the best blog readers in the world! Thank you for reading my posts and for so freely Sharing, Liking, Pinning, Tweeting, and emailing them! From Thanksgiving through Christmas, each week our posts had between 200 and 350 Facebook shares. Wow! I’m amazed, humbled, and honored by the success of our new blog.
Thank you so very much for being part of the family and for sharing this with your friends and family! You’re spreading the Manners Mentor Movement!!!!
Until next time, do what you were put on Earth to do! Bless others by being you…at your authentic best!
XOXO and blessings,