Don’t Overlook Thank You

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My parents are loving this. For my entire life they made me sit down after every holiday, birthday, and major event, and write thank-you notes to family and friends. Now I can hear some of you thinking, “Is that a problem?”, or even more so, “Good for them.”  For me, sitting still and writing a thank-you letter was the longest, most boring, most tedious thing you could ever make me do. I literally thought my brain might explode. It was a huge process, with the draft my parents had to correct (rightly so, because my spelling was/is atrocious) and often, the rough draft had to be re-written before the final draft was done in -gasp- ink.

Today I will tell you, I greatly appreciate having the skill of writing thank-you notes. Thank yous come in many forms. However, I will say there is something uniquely special about getting a handwritten thank-you note. A note someone took the time and thought to write, address an envelope (which is apparently a dying skill, along with being able to read and write in cursive), and even buy a stamp and mail. A thank-you note requires effort and is a treat which I sincerely appreciate.

Writing a good thank-you note isn’t really terribly difficult. It can be anywhere from three sentences to 15, depending on the room you have on your note card. Make sure you include the date and salutation at the top. For example, “Dear Joanne,” or “Dear Mrs. Smith,” is the perfect opener. Get right to the point in the opening sentence:  Thank you so much for having me as a guest for Thanksgiving. Follow that up with why or what was so wonderful about what you are thanking them for. For instance, you might say something about how wonderful the meal was or how special it felt to be included in their celebration.

Often I will start another paragraph with a point of conversation or other shared interest. It might be commenting on how much I liked a certain dish, or how much I enjoyed the conversation concerning (insert topic here) because it reminded me of (insert what polite/happy memory it triggered for you). This will allow the person receiving the card to know how much the experience meant to you.

Lastly, I end the note by thanking the person again for their kindness. Then close by saying “Sincerely,” or “All the best,” and sign my name. It is really a simple process, and when done in a timely manner, means the world to those who receive them.

Thank-you notes don’t discriminate based on age. Even children can take part. Maybe they draw a picture, or if they are learning to write they print “Thank You” in their own writing. Perhaps they stand next to you and tell you what they would like in the card as you put pen to paper. It is a skill that is never too early to learn, and more so, it allows children to learn how to express gratitude.

So as the seasons change and we think about gratitude, don’t overlook the importance of the thank-you note. It will show a grace and appreciation that can take you far in life.

P.S. Thank you to my parents for their patience teaching me this invaluable skill.

For more information, please contact Shea Ann DeJarnette, 4-H Youth Development with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by E-mail at or visit our website. Shea Ann is also licensed by the Emily Post Institute as a child etiquette teacher.