Inching Toward Simplicity: Pragmatics and Prose

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saying Thank You

Local readers: I will be at Burgundy Books in East Haddam tomorrow (Sunday, January 13) at 4PM, promoting Get Satisfied. Please come!


-If your thank you note skills have gotten rusty, here’s a good primer.

-Still feeling stumped? Here are sample notes for all kinds of occasions.

-Here are some tips to encourage kids to write thank yous. For the beginning writer, they make fill in the blank cards—Mad Libs for etiquette!

-I liked this blog by a young woman with diabetes. Obviously challenged by the demands of the disease, she devoted her space to wholehearted thanks this past November.

-I recently saw some troops in the Memphis airport. Regardless of my feelings about the war, I saw their young faces and was struck by how much they are sacrificing. Check out the Gratitude Campaign’s video on saying thank you to these brave men and women.


After every celebratory event of my young life, I was strongly encouraged, ordered really, to put pen to paper and write a glowing thank you note. This practice has slipped a bit in recent years – I often let a phone call or e-mail suffice. But this year I’m savoring the thought of sitting down with my fresh packet of blank holiday thank you cards.

I’ve already received some thank yous. Aunt Norma penned the first note. She has always been the note writer, signing Uncle Jack’s name first, except now there is no choice in the matter. Uncle Jack suffers from dementia and Norma carries every task imaginable these days. Life has not been easy, from young married farm life through present health concerns for both of them. But I feel Norma’s irrepressible spirit when she writes of her “deep appreciation for our many blessings”. She also reminded me, as Jack turns 80, to “Spend some time enjoying life and togetherness. Time is so precious…”. My mom’s notes echo the same sincere thanks to a family that she loves deeply.

Tom’s sister Corlyne would not rest until she knew that Gavin’s package had arrived. I think of the many long-distance family members who phone in orders, wrap packages, and wait in line at the post office thinking of us. Christmas morning is peppered with their phone calls, some reunions with folks we should call twice as often.

My mom needed help to haul our gifts up the steps this year. She always manages a true surprise, this year a noisy electric guitar for Gavin. He picks it up at least once a day, and every “riff” recalls Christmas Day and his loving “Nanny-Jean”.

Our neighbor Mr. Dube is often a “wave-to” neighbor. Each year flies by, and we see him less when the cold weather sets in. But he is faithful in his pre-mass Christmas Eve visits, always wielding an oversized toy for Gavin and wine for the grownups. He also remembers Gavin’s February birthday, when I recall waving down the driveway to him while in labor, panting, “we’re off to the hospital, finally!”

This year’s thank yous don’t feel like obligations. They feel like a meditation on the many blessings that surround us, in the form of people who genuinely care. I guess I’ve got Aunt Norma’s and Mom’s appreciative genes, a gift I treasure more than any other.

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At 1/13/2008 8:53 AM, Anonymous Linda said...

Thank you for this blog and for the inspiration I derive from it. Good luck at the book reading! Wish I could be there.


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