The Art of Saying Thank You

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
               Spring and summer are graduation and wedding season, which means giving gifts, and which a few weeks later means receiving thank you notes. This year I received one thank you note that stood out. It was from a young man to whom we had sent a graduation card with a little cash inside. The body of the thank you note contained the following:
                "Thank you for the money."
                That was it. I am not exaggerating, that was it. One sentence. “Thank you for the money.” Period. End of sentence. End of note.
                I literally burst out laughing when I read this note. It conjured up in my mind’s eye the image of a mother standing behind her stubborn teen-age son with her hands on her hips, insisting that he write a thank you note, and him technically, if not eloquently, complying.

                Not all situations require a written thank you. If my grandchildren give me a call or a hug to say “thank you” for a birthday gift, that is all the thanks I need. But there are times when a written note is more appropriate. When I was young, someone taught me a formula for writing thank you notes. I don’t remember who it was, or I would thank them. For now, I will show my thanks by passing their wisdom along.
                Here it is--A proper thank you note requires at least three sentences. The first sentence should say, “Thank you for…” The second sentence should say how the gift or service the person gave you benefits you. And lastly, the third sentence should say something personal about the giver. It is also necessary that either the first or second sentence mentions specifically what the gift or service was. For example:

                “Thank you for the money you sent to me for graduation. I will use it towards a laptop computer which I need for college. It was kind of you to congratulate me.”
                “Thank you for the wedding gift. We use the toaster every morning when we fix breakfast. Your love and friendship over the years has been very dear to us, and we were so glad you could be with us on our special day.”

                See how easy it is! Of course you can write more than three sentences if you choose. You could write page after page reminiscing about the memories you have of the giver or describing the perfect golden brown color of the toast when it comes out of the toaster. But if you aren’t that wordy, three sentences will suffice.
                Now I know that not everyone has had the benefit of learning this formula, so I don’t go around looking down my nose at two sentence thank yous. In fact, I think it’s wonderful whenever anyone takes the time to write down any number of sentences to say “thank you.” And I think it’s wonderful when mothers insist that their children do so. Because like any art, the art of saying "thank you" has to be practiced to be perfected.
                So the next time I receive a one sentence thank you note, I will again imagine a determined mother and an obstinate son, and I will think, “Way to go, mom. Keep up the good work.”


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