Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

At a recent gathering of friends, the topic of “thank you” notes came up, again. It is the most frequent complaint relating to manners that is mentioned to me. It seems that as a society we really like to receive “thank you” notes, but we rarely send them.

It is likely that I am preaching to the choir here; if you read this column, you are apt to be one who does write such notes. However, I am hoping what I say will be lovingly shared with others who don’t.

Let’s consider some plain facts:

What we stand to gain from saying “thank you” in writing:

• Most importantly, the satisfaction that we expressed our gratitude.

• A second interview for the job we seek.

• The job we want.

• The scholarship we are seeking.

• An extension we will need on the scholarship we were awarded.

• Deepened friendship.

• A gift next Christmas, too, from a relative or friend.

• An invitation to the next dinner party.

• A special place in a heart—the list is almost endless.

What we stand to lose from not saying “thank you” in writing:

• All of the above.

Thanking someone may, of course, be done in many ways. However, when we take time with a nice piece of paper or stationery and a pen to express our gratitude, or add our own words to an attractive store-bought card, we are giving back a tangible gift that the giver can hold in his hand and thereby be reminded whenever he looks at it that his efforts were appreciated.

Some of us were taught at the hands of our parents how to write a proper “thank you” note. I have come to believe that any written expression of thanks is proper and a good thing. However, as a refresher and in the hope that it will get into the hands of a young person who is willing to try it, here is a simple guide to assist him or her.

The date

Dear   ________

Thank you for ____________. 

Why you like the gift. For example: “It is such a cool shade of blue!” Or: “I especially enjoy reading autobiographies.” Or: “You sure know what I like in music.” Never ask to exchange the gift unless it is the wrong size or you already have one and cannot use another.

What you will do with the gift. For example: “I am saving it to wear the first day of camp this summer.” Or:  “I will share it with some friends who like action movies, too.” If cash, how it will be spent, or saved.

Optional, but nice, write something the giver might like to know about you or your family. For example: “everyone here is well and getting a lot of exercise trying to train our new Lab puppy, Ellie. We hope you will meet her soon!”

Again, thank you for such a nice/great/perfect/thoughtful gift.

Love/Sincerely/Best wishes,

Your name

Lastly, thanks to all of you who help keep these acts of kindness alive!