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Merci, from the bottom of my heart . . .
by Beth Boswell Jacks


We’re getting close to the time of year graduates and bridal couples dread – “Thank You Note Season.” In this techie age of fast communication, many young people think composing a handwritten note is a scary ogre just waiting to gobble them up if they dare take pen in hand to do what gracious tradition says must be done.

How difficult is it to write a decent note of gratitude? Not very. The fact is, unfortunately, note writing skills seem to be getting worse as the years go by, although I admit that as my age and crochety index rise, my nit-picking inclination does as well.

First of all, I deplore notes without a greeting. Please address my thank you notes like this: “Dear Mrs. Jacks.” I bought the gift and will tell Mr. Jacks, who paid for it, that you like it a lot.

Please use black or blue-black ink, and do avoid smilie faces and hearts as illustrations of your pleasure. Do not use a fill-in-the-blank card (“Thank you for the _________”) and do not use a fancy computer font to print your note. Handwritten means handwritten.

Length? Some old school marms insist on three paragraphs, each with three sentences, at the least; frankly, that’s about all one can squeeze on a note card. I don’t mind a shorter note, but three or four sentences should be minimum.

Simple is good. Cut to the chase. “Thank you for the velvet picture of Graceland that you and Mr. Jacks gave Billy Joe and me.” Do not thank me for sending a gift to “Billy Joe and I.” Would you say, “Thank you for sending a gift to I?” No, you wouldn’t.

Then say something nice about the gift, like: “The velvet picture is a treasure because I will never forget going to Graceland with Aunt Molly in July, 2000 – a summer day that was a popular tour day for many others also.” You don’t have to say where you’ll hang the picture because you might put it in different places as the spirit moves you. And you don’t have to say the trip to Graceland was memorable because you fainted from scorching heat and the crush of the crowds of camera toters.

Related rules to the above are 1) Don’t lie, and 2) Don’t exaggerate. You don’t have to say the velvet picture is “absolutely the most brilliant work of art” you’ve ever seen. I know that.

Say something personal to me if you can. “I remember what an enthusiastic cheerer you were at my ball games, and I hope to see you when I’m back in town visiting my parents.” Choose your words carefully; don’t imply (legitimately) that I’m a loud mouth.

What if you really hate the velvet picture of Graceland? Are there ways to express gratitude when you receive a present you’d like to pitch in the bayou? Of course. Be creative. Try these: “I really did not deserve such an extraordinary piece.” Or, “How can I adequately thank you for such a unique gift?” Or perhaps, “I opened your gift and told my mother, ‘Well, would you look at this!’”

Then finally, end the note by saying something like “Thanks again for your kindness,” but under no circumstances should you write the following overused, stale statement: “Thank you for thinking of me at this special time in my life.”

Awggg! I cringe as I type the words.

If you are in the middle of writing thank you notes and you have said “Thank you for thinking of me at this special time in my life,” STOP IT NOW. Don’t ever write that sentence again. That’s a terrible way to end notes.

If you haven’t started writing thank you notes but the advent approaches, post a big reminder: “Remember the critical ‘special time in my life’ rule.” Put the words in caps if that helps or scrawl them on your palm with ballpoint pen. Carve them in the kitchen table with your Swiss army knife. Do something.

Follow these guidelines, my dears, and I will thank you.

_______________________________


For more SNIPPETS stories, read these:
Ava's Story
Forget Your Troubles ~ C'mon, Get Older!
Trail rides, cantles and beans...Hellooo, Mama!
Dancing the Weight Away
Ben Skelton: Peace Corps Volunteer
Smiles, Not Fists...
Dance ~ the Soul's Hidden Language
Class Reunion Advice
Searching for the Inner Animal
It Was a Dark and Stormy... you know
Granny Does the Shoshone
How To Eat Crawfish...



For stories at USADS by columnist Beth Boswell Jacks, click here: SNIPPETS
And find even more here: MORE SNIPPETS


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