Giving Thanks

Keep in mind that a thank-you is a gift and a boomerang in disguise. Once you give a thank-you, it has the incredible power to come right back.
- Robyn Freedman Spizman

In many ways, December is truly my month of thanks. In addition to the gift-giving holidays, December is the month of my anniversary, birthday and spouse's birthday. It is as if the Thanksgiving holiday helps to herald in the true season of gratitude - one I sometimes think of as my 'thank you' season.

Recently I began writing my many thank you notes. Already, my list is in the double digits, and there are still a few gifts yet to be exchanged. Tackling this effort required some organization on my part.

Thank yous can be divided into four basic categories.

The first is also the most obvious; these are the thank yous for gifts you have received. Whether it is your birthday, anniversary, graduation, shower, wedding, baby shower, mother's day, father's day, or any other gift giving holiday, once the presents have been opened, the thank you notes should be written.

The second are the thank yous to the hosts and planners of activities and events you have attended. Part of being a gracious guest is to thank the host after the conclusion of the event. The role of the guest includes; responding in a timely manner as to whether or not you plan to attend, arriving at the appropriate time, bringing a small token of your appreciation to the host/hostess, partaking in the festivities (including mingling with new people and at least trying the food), leaving prior to the clean up crew, and writing a short note thanking the host/hostess for a wonderful party. It is also good form to reciprocate the invitation within the year.

The third are the thank yous to those who make your life easier all year long. Who you thank and how you thank them depends largely on your lifestyle. To give you and idea, here are the people on my thank you list:

  • House Cleaners: Tip
  • Teachers: Stationery & Group Gift
  • Mail Carrier: Smart Socks
  • Post Office Windows: Gourmet Cookies
  • CVS Photo Lady: Card
  • Copy Guys at Kinko's and Staples: Cards
  • Baby Sitters: Gourmet Chocolates and Tip
  • Proofreaders: Gourmet Chocolates
  • Newspaper Delivery: Tip
  • Hairdresser: Luxury Soaps & Card Case
The fourth are the thank yous to those institutions in the community to which you belong and/or believe in supporting. These thank yous can take the form of money, volunteering, or donation of goods. Some examples are:
  • Museums, Hospitals and Community Centers
  • Public Radio and Television Stations
  • Your Church/Synagogue/Mosque
  • Your favorite philanthropy
In this season that is notoriously materialistic, take a moment to thank those who have made a difference in your life. A well written thank you note is a gift unto itself.

Wishing you and yours peace, love, freedom, family, friends and joy now and in the New Year.

Q: Dear Mannersmith ~ A colleague and I are in a dispute regarding thank you notes. He says that you should send thank you cards, even at Christmas time, if the person giving the gift does not live in your house. What is the social etiquette?

A: I agree with your colleague and go one step further. For any gift, whether the giver lives in the same house or not, I write a handwritten thank you note. In today's rushed world, it is a small miracle when someone takes the time to give you a gift. Their kind thoughts should always be rewarded with your written thanks.

Q: Dear Mannersmith ~ The public radio station I listen to seems to constantly be having their "annual" fund drive. How often should I feel obligated to contribute?

A: As a rabid fan of Car Talk, Talk of the Nation and All Things Considered, I would encourage you to give as often and as much as you can. With that said, I contribute to my local NPR station once a year. You should consider how much you want to donate over the course of the year. Or, you may also want to consider donating your time to help answer phones during the fund drives.

Q: Dear Mannersmith ~ I recently moved to the south and have noticed an interesting local custom. Guests actually bring their note cards to an event, write the card while sitting in the car after the party and put the note in the mailbox before they go home. Is it all right for me to wait until I am home to write a note, or will my note be considered late?

A: This is clearly a gracious as well as competitive crowd with which you associate. While local customs generally prevail, you could hardly be faulted for writing your notes 12 hours later.