Personal Written Expressions Of Thanks Are A Rarity In Today’s Modern World.
Emily Post has probably turned over in her grave a thousand times if she has been able to witness from eternity the shallow, negligent, impersonal, ungrateful world we live in today.
It was a given in bygone days that when a person received a wedding or baby shower gift, they sent the gift-giver a hand-written thank you note within one to three months. When being a guest in someone’s home for a meal or celebration, a card or note of thanks was an ingrained, automatic response. Children sent letters of thanks to their grandparents and aunts and uncles for Christmas and birthday gifts. It was called manners, gratitude, respect, and thoughtfulness.
Today there is very little gratitude and it can be seen by the absence of personally written or delivered notes or calls of thanks. Grandparents will often tell you they never know if their grandchildren ever received the gift they sent because there was no communication from them.
“Thx” is Not Enough
The advent of electronic media - email, text messaging, social media - has impersonalized communication. Using media to communicate is wonderfully fast and convenient, but it has caused a great chasm in relating to one another in a personal, meaningful way. Sending a text, email, Facebook post or tweet offers the convenience of not having to take time to think about what to say in the most heartfelt way (email might be an exception at times). Communication mediums such as these can be likened to written sound bites - short, flippant little snippets. We type letters on a screen and hit send with lightning speed, with no forethought. Get it done quick and easy and get back to me, myself, and I.
Today we send hurried texts that say “Thx,” when someone has taken the time and care to give something significant to us. “Thx” lacks sincerity, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness if it’s about things that really matter. “Thx,” says “That’s all I have time for you. I am too busy to even write the whole word, let alone how deeply I appreciate X, Y, or Z.” “Thx” is appropriate in situations like, “Oh, you forgot your book while you were here. I will put it on your desk.”
Is Electronic Media That Different Than Writing a Letter?
Since the technological mediums I mentioned involve sending word messages, one might ask how it is different than writing a thank you letter, card, or note. Consider these:
1. Sending a thank you message via email can sometimes be appropriate, but there is always the risk of it being deleted accidentally and the message never got through.
2. Purchasing or making a thank you card, on the other hand, requires thoughtful consideration when making a choice. You look at the image and think how much the recipient might like the roses, or the puppy etc. If you choose to get one with a sentiment, you search through the many cards to find one that expresses what you’d like to say the best. This is called thoughtfulness. It shows them that they matter and that you are grateful.
Sending a card, letter, or note of thanks is an investment of time and energy, in contrast to the hurried, flippant, instant process that technology affords. It takes time to sit down at the desk and think up a meaningful way to say thank you. And yet, most people don’t think twice about spending hours on the computer surfing the net or reading tweets.
When Should We Send a Thank You Note?
Thank you notes should be sent when someone has gone out of their way for you to show you that they care. Following are standard occasions to send notes of thanks:
• Shower gifts
• Wedding gifts
• New baby gifts
• Graduation gifts
• Any gift where the giver is not present
• After an exceptional kindness or favor
• After a job interview
• Condolence notes or gifts
• When you’ve been a house guest
• Parties or events thrown in your honor
• Variety of events you’ve attended
• Benevolent gifts or charity of some sort
• Donations to your favorite charity
• Exceptional acts of kindness can be anything that has
helped or encouraged you. There are a million and one
reasons to write notes of thanks.
Teach Children to Write Thank You Notes
It is important for parents to model gratitude in the home. Not just in written form, but as a way of life. In fact, it is the modeling of gratitude that will make the greatest impression and impact on the children. It will cause gratitude to grow in their hearts.