Tomorrow is National ‘Thank You Note’ Day.
I know it seems like thank you notes are out of fashion (and maybe they are), but I feel they are still important for a number of reasons:
- Showing gratitude is important both for ourselves and to the person we are thanking.
- Thank you notes inform the giver that you have received the item they sent you.
- You have the power to make someone’s day better by letting them know you appreciate their thoughtfulness.
After my sons bar mitzvah and my daughter’s bat mitzvah, I made them write handwritten thank you notes to all the people who gave them gifts. It was a chore for sure, but the people who received them were very appreciative.
People called and texted me to say they got the notes and they thought it was so nice and thoughtful the kids wrote them.
But my kids were not the only ones who recently wrote thank you notes.
After my mother died, there were lots of people who helped me and my family here in Israel and in the US.
My brother and I coordinated with my dad to handwrite thank you notes for each person who brought a meal or sent a donation to the family in America, and I wrote notes to everyone who brought food to me during shiva here in Israel.
(If we hadn’t, it probably would have made my mom die again -gratitude was so important to her!)
This gave me the chance to sit down and give personal thanks to each person who helped. But not only that, it was healing and cathartic for me.
Some of the people who sent things I didn’t know personally but I knew my mom held in high regard, and some people I DID know personally and could relay a bit about how much my mom cared for them.
Doing this gave me the chance to give gratitude, connect with the people who cared for us, and pull myself out of a sad state.
It also helped the people I thanked because it helped them feel good about how they had helped us. And because I personalized each note, and added something I knew about them or mentioned an interaction they had with my mom, it helped them to heal as well. It isn’t just a mourner who misses the person who dies, but every person who knew the person who passed.
In the cases of the people who didn’t know my mother but who were my friends here, it allowed me to connect with them on a new and different level.
Writing a note where you don’t expect an answer in return and just express your thankfulness is a generous act. During these times of limited interaction, thank you notes give us a way to interact that may have been previously neglected.
So while I don’t think anything replaces the classy gesture of writing a handwritten note, I do believe that an email or a text message to say thank you is better than letting an act of kindness go unthanked, or unnoticed.
I know that this is time-consuming, but I promise the time you take to say thank you will make the item you are saying thank you for more meaningful to you, and will make the person who gave it to you feel really pleased.
Are you unsure about how to write a thank-you note? Well, you’re in luck!
In my book, Organized Jewish Life, I talk about how to write thank you notes and what the best practices are, in addition to going through all major life cycle events and holidays in Judaism.
Pre-order your copy here!