A lost art

April 16, 2014 § 9 Comments

When I was growing up, thank you notes were non-negotiable. After every birthday party, my mom sat us down with a writing pad and a list of the presents we’d received, and we wrote proper thank you letters to friends and family members who’d spoilt us.

It wasn’t good enough to say, “Dear Uncle James, thank you for the book.” It had to be a proper letter, at least a page and a couple of paragraphs long. But somehow, in a world of texts and typing, we’ve lost the art of writing letters, and thank you letters in particular.

But there were five people I needed to thank, so I sat down to write. And a funny thing happened.

Just like forgiveness – which frees the the forgiver, not the forgiven – I found that the act of expressing gratitude was an enormously uplifting exercise for me.

It’s so easy to just say “thank you” and leave it at that. To be general, yet grateful, and hope that will do. But if you sit down and get specific, if you try to unpack why you appreciate someone, you are left with a sense of awe and wonder at the extraordinary people who inhabit your life. And your heart smiles.

Or at least, mine does.




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§ 9 Responses to A lost art

  • Vernon says:

    Hi Mandy. Thanks for this great blog. Like you, I grew up with thank you letters. I love the way you re-membered in my mind the importance of those letters. And yes being grateful is a life blessing always! Thank you!!


  • Bingo- -! One does need reminding of those graces. Thank you.


  • Kit says:

    Thank you letters were also part of our growing up. My Mum is always visiting at Christmas and it is she who makes sure our kids write theirs to family members who’ve sent things from overseas. Left to themselves mine would probably email nowadays.


  • Must be generational. I was always taught and it became a habit. One of my daughters not only writes the notes, she makes her own cards. It almost makes up for the daughter who “didn’t get the memo.”


  • amaop says:

    Your observation is really correct, Mandy. Gratitude is deeply connected to our being, just like love, and when expressed, it leaves a deep impression of fulfillment. Love you.


  • pipmarks says:

    I agree thank you notes are really important but they can also catch you out. Just yesterday a senior politician in Australia was forced to resign on account of a thank you note!
    ‘Barry O’Farrell is resigning as the New South Wales premier after announcing that a signed thank you note for a $3000 bottle of wine had been tendered to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

    On Wednesday morning the inquiry received a card from O’Farrell to the former Australian Water Holdings chief executive Nick Di Girolamo thanking him for his gift of “wonderful wine”.’
    Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/16/barry-ofarrell-resigns-as-nsw-premier-after-thankyou-card-for-wine-emerges


  • mariekeates says:

    Letter writing is something I miss. I had a friend in Germany when I was younger, we wrote long rambling letters to each other weekly, even devised little puzzles and word games in them. When she moved back to England I was sad at the end for the excuse to write. Maybe I’ll write to her now, even if she does only live around the corner.


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