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Don’t Forget the Thank You Notes

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little girl writing letter

When my sister and I were little girls, our mother and father made us write thank you notes. I remember one time my brother’s girlfriend brought us pretty little bracelets. We dutifully sat down and wrote one thank you note together. When our parents found out they insisted that we write separate ones, but we succeeded with just the one. The note, after all, had already been written we told our parents, and thus won the battle!

Growing up in a rural area, our school was small, and eighth grade graduation was a big deal. One of my classmate’s parents gave a delightful party for our class after the ceremony. Later, the hostess told me that I was the only child that sent her a thank you note. I felt happy that she acknowledged my card.

Over time, writing thank you notes has been woven into my fabric.

Several years ago, I decided to take a year off from writing thank you notes. I felt they had become routine and insincere. I needed to reflect on what I was doing. It was uncomfortable, but in that emptiness, I had space to think and feel my experience around writing thank you notes.

Now all this may seem silly in a world with huge struggles with loss of natural habitats for wildlife, war, and natural disasters, but I felt it was important for me to do. In the end, I decided that when someone does something nice for me, they have expended thought, effort, and even expense on my behalf. Just preparing a meal can be time consuming – deciding the menu, making a shopping list, running errands to gather the needed items, straightening and cleaning the house, setting the table, cooking the meal, and cleaning up – not to mention first finding a free date on our calendars to get together! It takes about 5 minutes to write a thank you note in order to express my gratitude for the hostess’ efforts on my behalf. I feel it’s the least I can do.

Thank you notes as artAfter that, I began to realize that note cards are a relatively inexpensive way for me to enjoy art. My walls are covered with art. I get frustrated that the walls have limited space, because I love being bathed in art. Cards are a wonderful way to experience and share art.

  • It gives me good reason to purchase a box of cards at a museum.
  • I enjoy selecting cards at thrift shops where they are remarkably inexpensive.
  • I have an opportunity to support a worthy cause and can drop off a bag of donations at the same time!
  • When traveling, cards make great souvenirs.

I still have some notecards purchased over 30 years ago in Switzerland at an outdoor market. Every time I look at them, I remember that experience. Seeing and feeling these cards bring back the sights and smells of that moment. I save them to send to someone who will appreciate their beauty and the skill of the artisan who made them.

The feel and quality of the paper expands the sensual experience. Handmade paper from India has a rough texture that stimulates the ends of the fingers. Stiffer board used to make hand cut decorations on cards feels strong and firm. The paper used to make inexpensive cards feels flexible and smooth. Each provides a foundation for an infinite rainbow of colors blended to create something unique and pleasing to see and feel and share.

Stamps add to the beauty of the envelope. In and of themselves, they reproduce messages, art, famous individuals, and images recalling pivotal historic periods. I like to have a variety of stamps on hand so that one can be selected to fit the individual and event.

Last night I struggled to find the right color of ink for a card that I was writing. Most of my pens are black, and the ink had to be blue. As I age, it’s difficult to see the difference between black and dark blue, so my magnifying glass, which is increasingly useful, provided sufficient amplification to determine the color and find a blue ink pen.

Thank you notesMy cards are organized by occasion, but my favorites are blank cards. It’s fun to look through a museum full of art pieces in a box while selecting one that best suits the individual I’m thanking. Then, I look in my heart to find a few simple words to express my deep gratitude for his or her’s gesture of kindness.

This gives me an opportunity to remember my mother and father and this gift they gave me, which has enriched my life and those who touch my life.

Author: Martha Childers

Martha Childers, EdS, LPC is a multicultural psychotherapist specializing in couples, grief and caregiver stress. Martha is a licensed professional counselor in Missouri and Kansas. She received her masters and education specialist degrees in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She practiced Zen through a variety of Japanese traditional arts for 3-1/2 years. Since that time, mindfulness has been an integral part of her life. Her interest in human nature, beliefs, and life styles led her to become a counselor.

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