On Writing Thank You Notes

Every post-holiday or birthday season, it was inevitable. The nagging.

“Have you written a thank you note to your grandmother yet?” my dad would randomly shoot at me from across the dinner table.

“Ugh. No, Dad, I haven’t.” I would say in my most disgruntled preteen voice.

“You know, it’s really important that you do that,” he continued. “People need to know that you’ve appreciated the time and effort they’ve put into giving you a gift. It’s not about you, you know.”

I pouted at him in response, then looked away, surly.

“Don’t look like that,” he said. “Don’t you like it when YOU get a thank you note?”

I was probably about nine years old when these lectures began, and as soon as I got over my adolescent resistance basic polite behavior, I began seeing and feeling that yes, indeed, it did feel good to get a thank you note. What started out as an obligation as a young person has taken hold over the years.

I started to love receiving letters when I began a steady correspondence with a friend who lived very far away during the school year and in my town during the summer. It helped that I was mightily infatuated with this person, but i devoured every letter I received from them. I still love writing letters, and I mean real letters. I mean written by hand, pen and ink, five page long, extravagant, story-telling letters.

My love of letters began to play into my notions about writing thank you notes. There’s just something about written, physical mail that is special these days. The physicality of the paper, the written words, etc. make the thank you that much more palpable, intimate and sincere.

Thats why, as a (young) adult, when I find myself in the position of owing someone a thank you note, I actually get really excited. Just knowing that someone has done something for me that makes me want to say thank you means that I am a very fortunate person, indeed. Additionally, knowing that I get to surprise them with a hand-written note of thanks builds on the gratitude.

There are two healing balms we can make without any ingredients: gratitude and forgiveness. Writing thank you notes is an obvious yet special opportunity to practice and express gratitude, and I can feel the fulfillment and satisfaction of it fill me every time I write.

I wrote on this today, because, having finished a majority of the graduate school application process, I find myself in the position of having many, many thank you notes to write. I’m enjoying each and every one.



P.S. After a rather long hiatus, I believe I am back in the drivers seat with blogging. I’ve gone to the desert, I lead my first 5.10a outside, I’m heading out to Montana for holidays, and then, I’ll be flying to Costa Rica for the winter. So, stay tuned! I’ll be writing it down in the days to come.


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