The Giving of ThanksDear Aunt Judy and Uncle Pete,
Thank you very much for the lovely bear Christmas ornament. It is very beautiful and will look really good on the tree next year.
We had a very nice Christmas. Uncle Tim came and stayed with us on Christmas Eve. We're going to have a skating and sledding party in the back yard for New Year's Eve.
Thank you again for bear. I hope you had a merry Christmas!
My mother believes in thank you notes. When we were kids, Mom would keep a careful list of who sent us what as we opened each gift. Within a week, Mom would force us to sit down at the kitchen table with her list and write the notes by hand on pieces of her stationary. Mom would tuck the notes into cards and address the envelopes; my childish handwriting would have easily filled the front of the envelopes and left no room for a stamp.
Since my mother comes from a large family (six sisters and two brothers) and only one was local to us, there were a lot of notes to write. For Christmas every year until high school graduation, every aunt on my mother's side would mail a tree ornament – often handmade – to each of the cousins. I have enough beautiful ornaments to completely cover a tree with hardly room for lights, and each one represents a thank you note written in careful black pen.Dear Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Ian,
Thank you very much for the adorable snow angel ornament. It is very cute and will look really good on the tree next year.
"I'm so sorry I'm late making my changes," the customer on the phone says.
"That's OK; I think I can get them done for you."
"That's great!" and then she rattles off three changes and five additions she would like. I carefully note them all down and read them back to her.
"Anything else I can do for you?" I ask.
"Nope. I think that covers it."
"Thank you very much!" I conclude.
I say "thank you" automatically, and as often for when I do something for someone else as when they do something for me. Too much time in customer service.
I also apologize to inanimate objects when I bump into them, but that's normal: I'm Canadian.
I try to remember to mean it when I say it, but words are so easy. Typed thank you notes can be cheats too: copy and paste makes it simple. It is too easy. Dear Aunt Brenda and Uncle Urs,
Thank you very much for the "Drummers Drumming" ornament. It is very beautiful and really completes the 12 Days of Christmas collection perfectly.
Some of my aunts still remember my annual thank you notes, though I haven't had to write one since my graduation ten years ago. There's something meaningful about ink on paper, written and addressed by hand, and mailed with a real stamp.
Embodied gratitude: saying "thanks" less and giving thanks more.