I believe in thank you notes. I believe in sending them and in receiving them. Absolutely for gifts – every gift REQUIRES written acknowledgement – but also for random acts of kindness or thoughtful behavior and for hospitality.
Ask anyone, “Hey, how are you doing?” and they will most likely respond, “Busy. I am SOOO busy. There is just too much going on.”
People are busy. Everyone is busy.
Work. Play. Shopping. Recreation. Family. Cooking. Errands. Laundry. School. Housework.
Social commitments. Yard work. Commuting. Volunteering.
It’s hard to make time for yourself, much less for others.
That’s why it is so darned special when someone takes the time to do something nice. It may be something small, such as checking to see if you have books that need to be returned to the library since they are going. Or something bigger, like inviting you over for dinner because they know you’ve spent the day carting around mulch in the yard and will be too tired to cook.
I believe people who make the effort to stop what they are doing and look around to see what another human being might need deserve to be formally acknowledged and appreciated. And I think that appreciation is more genuine and more meaningful if it isn’t especially easy.
To me, a breezy “Thanks a million,” You are a life saver,” or (my personal least favorite) “You’re the best!” is too easy and, though true, lacks the appropriate depth of gratitude. It’s what you say to a clerk in a store who helped you locate an item or made your transaction a breeze.
But when someone does something nice for you, exhibits a degree of thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit by providing a kindness, it is imperative to recognize their efforts and describe your gratitude.
I am very fortunate to have friends from all decades of my life scattered across the world. I make every effort to stay in touch and see them whenever possible. Whether it’s a visit to a friend’s charming weekend house on the river or a night in a friend’s comfortable guest room while traveling, a hostess gift is always a necessity – after all etiquette mavens from Emily Post to Miss Manners say you must.
But after we leave our friends’ homes, I bask in the warm recollections of shared laughter, lively conversation, and newly-minted memories. And that is when I begin to compose my thank you note – a heartfelt expression of how their hospitality, generosity and kindness made me feel and why I treasure their friendship. It is important to me that those who take the time to make me a priority are aware that I am grateful. I believe in thank you notes.
Essayist Stacie Chandler works in the Penn State School of Theatre and lives in Philipsburg.