Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thank You Notes

When I was little, my mother insisted we write thank-you notes after Christmas and birthdays. My brother and sister and I hated doing it, but we did it anyway. I can't remember when we were 'allowed' to stop, but my brother and I did so. Maybe my sister did for a while, but she took it up again. She even went so far as to write thank-you notes from her baby daughter for gifts we gave her, which were hilarious and which I kept. I started thinking that it was sweet of her to do this and wondering if maybe I should take up writing thank-you notes again.

A lawyer named John Kralik decided to write more thank-you notes; one each day. He wrote a book about it called 365 Thank-Yous. Included in the article is a list of thank-you note writing tips. I think I should read this book; it's about time I got back to thanking people via real notes.

After the holidays, it's easy to view thank you note writing as a chore, but Kralik says that sincerity is the best approach — he encourages people to focus on one true, meaningful sentence about the gift or the person. The notes don't have to be long, Kralik explains; sometimes limiting yourself to just a few sentences forces you to distill your sentiments.

A long time ago I went through a very difficult period in my life; I suffered from clinical depression. (I still do. I'm just very well medicated now.) The importance of lots of little things hit me: the small things people do that are thoughtful and kind. Things I should be grateful for. We take a lot of things for granted, including people. When it was hard for me to feel cared for or worth caring for, I decided to try to make sure people who were kind to me or provided some kind of service to me were thanked. I figured maybe if I took a few seconds to be thoughtful, maybe I could make someone's day a little better or at least more tolerable. Little things like that wound up making a big difference to me when I was miserable.


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