Most of us love receiving gifts. What seems to be a challenge is giving thanks for those gifts. I remember my mother and other relatives emphasizing the importance of thank you notes, handwritten expressions of appreciation for even the smallest of gifts I received at Christmas and other times throughout the year. I remember my great-aunt used to return my thank you notes with “edits” – corrections of my grammar and spelling. For which I also had to be thankful!

But today, our communication methods are so quick and we often feel stressed to get back to them that the art of handwritten thank you notes is waning. Waning, perhaps, but no less important. Because respect for others is at the core of being thankful for the things they give us. And respect is something each of us would, of course, like to have. By putting pen to paper in however brief a fashion, we are telling someone that we not only appreciate their gift (yes, even if we know it’s something we’ll regift next year!), we are deeply thankful for the person behind it, the relationship that we have with him or her, and that we respect them.

I keep a small box of notecards by my desk, a handy way to reach out and be thankful when the need arises. My “thank you” notes still probably contain grammatical and spelling errors – some things will never change! But I hope the love and respect behind them comes through – after Christmas and at all other times of the year!



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