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The Art of Saying Thank you


For us Brits the use of the words Please and Thank you are fundamental to our existence. It’s something we teach our children from the tiniest age, on handing a toy we say ‘ta’ or ‘thank you’ and when our little ones ask for a drink or a biscuit we always take the time to teach them to tag on the word please to their sentence. We expect these two words to be used in every day circumstances. I’d say we’re all pretty strict about it.

As a child I was expected to write thank you notes to all members of family who had kindly remembered me with a card and gift and as a child it was one of those dreaded, takes-for-ages tasks to complete. My first note started off with beautiful handwriting and well thought out sentences but by the time I was on the 5th or 6th they were barely scribbled and copied from the first one, omitting words even sentences to get the task completed A.S.A.P.

I must admit my favourite Thank you notes I receive are from Billy my nephew, aged 8 who has a fantastic imagination and in his letter you can feel he’s dying to get the task over and done with but still committed enough to make the note interesting. I even tried to dig one out to show you (I’ve kept them just in case they come in handy at his 18th) but after the house move last year Heaven only knows where I’ve stashed them. Oh and obviously I haven’t received this year’s yet – Billy?

Rosie, aged 10, my niece writes a lovely note too, hers are more heartfelt and very neat and tidy and recently we’ve been receiving notes from Samuel, our lovely three-year old nephew, written by mummy with the addition of his own signature, very impressive.

My mother has always been a stickler for Thank you notes and many a groan could be heard on the days off school after Christmas when mum would shout out,

‘What do you mean you’re bored with all those new toys you have upstairs? Have you written your Thank You’s yet, well if you’re bored go and do them!’ That told us!

All credit due to her, by the first day back at school in January they were all written and she saw to it they were posted off to the various recipients, all of whom would really appreciate our scribbled thoughts – albeit begrudgingly. When I say begrudgingly, it wasn’t the Thank you we didn’t like doing, it was the writing.

In fact in today’s age of computer games and heaps of homework children aren’t being gently reminded to write their notes any more which I can fully understand. Many of their lives are so more hectic than mine, what with Beavers, Football Practice, swimming, tennis, judo and so many other After School Activities, they haven’t got the time.

But the trouble is ,to a grandparent that note goes a hell of a long way, their hearts sing with joy at the receipt of a badly written note..’Thank you for my Toy Story Potato head, I really love it, love Billy xxx’ the note will be displayed proudly on the mantlepiece where any visitor can remark what a lovely child he is, how thoughtful. We know it was all down to his mum’s gentle art of persuasion but they are happy none the less. Also shouldn’t we be encouraging our children to appreciate gifts? To understand that thought and time and of course money was spent thinking of him/her and that should be recognised with a Thank You?

I have completed our Thank You’s for this year against Paul’s ‘I don’t know why you bother, just phone ’em up’ cries and posted with second class stamps as we’re on a tight budget from now till our lottery win and I think the recipients will be over the moon that we took the time for them…tell you what…can’t wait for the girl’s to be able to write them for me though 🙂

What do you think about thank you notes, a tradition of the past or something that we should encourage to continue?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 08/01/2011 1:32 pm

    I completely agree with you – I love writing thank you cards from my daughter for her xmas and birthday presents. I love thinking of what creative way I can say thank you – last year was cards with foot prints, then it was scribbles and finger painting. This year, I’ve yet to do them(!) but I will be this week.

    Family and friends appreciate the gesture so much. i know I do, and I keep the cards forever. They sit on my shelf for a few weeks and then I pop them in the memories box. Just that little bit of thought makes a big big smile. x

  2. hayley permalink
    08/01/2011 3:12 pm

    i recieved the card today,so thankyou for that.i must admit i love recieving them in the post and also think that they are important to do.ours are still a work in progress!!!

  3. 08/01/2011 7:13 pm

    My kids are still babies so it’s not an issue yet, but I think gratitude us really important & I’ll be encouraging to express it. I always make a point if thanking all those who give me presents at birthday or Xmas time – especially if it’s a really good one!

  4. 10/01/2011 9:58 am

    We must keep up the niceties of good manners or they will be lost forever I love to watch the period dramas on TV a fine example of civility. It’s a feel good factor too .

  5. 10/01/2011 9:06 pm

    This is a tradition that never took hold in my family so I don’t know what to say about it honestly. Right now, I’m just struggling to do more frequent letter-writing.

    • 11/01/2011 3:15 pm

      I write letters too, and it’s finding the time to do them to be hionest that’s the hard part, not the writing

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