Thursday, February 4, 2016


Inside it said "You Really Knocked Yourself Out" from my daughter  about Christmas.
I just mailed the last few thank you letters for my Christmas gifts. I’d already mailed at least a dozen so far, but I got busy with other things and put the last three off for various reasons. I ran out of stamps for two, and I wanted to send a book and something else with the one to my California daughter. Although I always thank the giver when I receive a gift or gifts given to me in person, I also send thank you notes or letters. There’s something special about receiving a written thank you. My three sisters all send thank you letters, and so does my brother-in-law, my youngest daughter, and my step-grandson’s wife sent me one, too, even though they’d both thanked me in person as did two sisters and my daughter.
Written by my son when he was 8 or 9.

I brought my children up to write thank you letters for gifts they’d received. Yes, I sometimes had to nag a little, but they did it. Most children don’t seem to do that anymore. That’s why I was so thrilled when three weeks ago I received a hand written thank you letter from a nine year old boy I’d never met. He’s the son of my dentist’s office scheduler and bookkeeper. We got to talking before I left, and she said her son loved to read. When I found out he was in third grade,

From the son of the woman who works in my dentist's office.

I went to my car and signed a copy of my middle-grade book The Sherlock Holmes Detective Club. That thank you note meant more to me than any money I could have asked for the book.

One of Ann Sprague's granddaughers.

Then as I was in the lobby of my church going in for Mass, a woman I know came up to me. She handed me two typed thank you letters from her two granddaughters, who are cousins. At my church’s large craft show in December,  I sold quite a few books, including nine of the ten copies I’d brought of my middle-grade book. Their grandmother bought two to give to each of her granddaughters, and I signed each one for her granddaughters. They were absolutely delightful letters, especially for me because they are the age of the students I taught.

The other granddaughter 
Sometime each January, I taught my third grade students how to write thank you letters. I told them they were to write a letter to their Aunt Gertrude thanking her. Of course, I heard “I don’t have an Aunt Gertrude.” I told them it didn’t matter, because it was only going to me for a grade. Then I had the boys write a letter thanking this aunt for something like a pink sweater, and I told them even though they wouldn’t want a gift like that, they had to write a nice thank you letter so they didn’t hurt their aunt’s feelings. For the girls it might be a box of Matchbox cars, or sometimes I made it really weird like a purple, orange, yellow sweatshirt that was too big or too small and maybe had a rip in it. Or maybe it would be a gift for a toddler. I also told them the difference between a white lie, which was said so as not to hurt someone else’s feelings, and a lie to get out of trouble. After all, Aunt Gertrude meant well, and there’s no way they should let her know they didn’t like her gift. The letters they wrote had me shaking my head and smiling when I read them. Kids, you gotta love them. They can lie if they’re trying to stay out of trouble, but for a teacher to ask them to lie, especially about some very unwelcome gift, really stretched their imagination. I only wish I had saved some of those letters.

Do you write thank you letters?
Do you like to get thank you letters?


  1. I always intend to write thank you letters but often fail to follow through. In these days when a quick email of text message is so easy, the handwritten note is all the more special.

  2. Wonderful post, Gloria. Thank you letters are becoming something of a lost art. I write them for dinner invitations and gifts too. It always amuses me to receive a thank you for my thank you note.

  3. Yes, I write thank you notes.

    I share my KRL stories with the girls (7 and 9) next door. Yesterday, the older one told me she had received a prize in a local poetry contest. I pulled a spiral bound journal out of my stash for her, and told her to keep writing, every day, now that she was a real poet.

  4. I do handprint (my writing is essentially illegible, often even to me) write thank yous, but I will admit to my mother having to result to threat of punishment before I would write them as a kid.

    ~ Jim

  5. I'm like Julie. Good intentions, but ... I do love receiving them, and hope this tradition never dies away.

  6. I love thank you notes, both sending and receiving them. I think they have gotten to be so rare that when people do receive them, it is a true special occasion that makes an impression. Like you, I received some at work that I will always treasure. There have been plenty of verbal thank yous, but there is something about holding the paper in my hands that makes the memory so real.


  7. Julie, I understand the procrastination bit since I just sent out my last three thank you letters a few days ago. I have a list of people to call, that I put off, too.

    Kait, I've sometimes gotten a thank you for my thank you letters, too. But it's rare. More often someone calls me to say thank you for the thank you letter.

    Margaret, I love that age. How nice that you gave her a notebook. I write in a journal every day and one Christmas gave everyone on my list a journal in addition to another gift, and told my siblings, in-laws, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews they would get a $25.00 gift card of their choice if they wrote in their journal and showed it to me next year. It didn't have to fill the whole journal, even half would do. Know how many followed through? Sadly no one. Now journal or diary writing seems to be even more of a lost art than writing letters.

    Jim, I don't remember writing thank you notes as a kid, but probably it was because we didn't get many gifts except from our parents when we were kids. My one grandfather gave all of us a silver dollar at Christmas, but I don't think I wrote a thank you for that. We
    lived next to his farm and spent most of our free time there.

    Carla, I love receiving them, too. In fact, I save most of them and use them as bookmarks.

    Shari, I feel the same way. As I mentioned above I use them as bookmarks.

  8. When I first met Judy we lived far apart. I wrote letters, which she loved to get. She sent me books. No wonder we fell in love.

  9. The rule I grew up with (and enforced with my kids) was that you can't play with/wear/spend a gift until the thank you note is written. Which lead to a bevy of writing on Christmas morning.

    I did learn, though, to check the notes before they went out. They were usually very sincere, sometimes too much so. I intercepted one that said, "Thank you for the warm slippers. They are pretty ugly and much too big, but I'm sure I will grow into them some day."


  10. Warren, that's so beautiful, and yes, it's no wonder you fell in love and have been for many many years. I'll bet she saved all your letters, too.

    KM, what a good rule. I had to laugh about the one thank you note. It is so much how a kid thinks. They tend to say what they think no matter what it is.

  11. Yes, we write thank you letters. It was one trait of my daughter-in-law--she always wrote thank you notes. I was impressed. But when my son and she married, I told her, although lovely, she didn't have to send them anymore. A note of appreciation says a lot, but I feel it is unnecessary among close family members!

    I think letter writing is an art. If you've never read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, please read it. Most of the book is in the form of letters back and forth between the main characters. The letters explained the situation during occupied Guernsey during WWII. It's a wonderful book, and unfortunately, the author died before she could finish writing it. Her daughter or daughter-in-law finished it for her. That in and of itself told its own story!

  12. E.B. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is one of my all time favorite books. I picked it for both book clubs, and am only sorry that one of the authors died before they could write another book.