Ever since I was a little girl who could sloppily (and sometimes backwardly) pen her own name, my parents made time for my sister and I to write “thank you” notes to loved ones who had sent us money in birthday cards, mailed us handmade Christmas gifts or hand-delivered travelers checks while they were  visiting. We were a military family, so all of our gifts and moneys from family usually arrived long-distance, just as our “thank you” notes were sent.

I remember my parents told us that if we didn’t “thank” the family who were thoughtful enough to send us a gift, we may not ever get one from them again. Of course, the motivation of future presents were incentive enough for my sister and me to complete and mail every single “thank you” note in a timely manner, lest we stop receiving packages of goods on future birthdays.

Maybe the method of motivating us wasn’t exactly psychologist-approved, but the message seemed to stick. To this day, I still write and send thank you notes to friends and family who were thoughtful enough to give money, send a gift, attend a party. Of course, now I have two kids, so those notes are rarely ever sent in a timely manner. Nowadays, my motto with “thank you” notes is “better late than never!” If you’re waiting for a “thank you” note from me, I really hope you agree.

The lesson of “thank you” note writing was one I learned early, and it served me well, to say the least. The packages of presents kept coming. In fact, the cards with money have even been inherited by my kids (unfortunately, there was some ominous family rule about the “money cards” stopping once you got married, so I still get cards which I cherish, but not so much the cash).

I had a professor in college who reinforced the idea of these notes by telling me to always practice “the attitude of gratitude.” I’ve kept in touch with long-distance family, but I’ve also been selected for jobs because of my follow-up “thank you” note to an interviewer. Twice. Job interviewers and human resources gatekeepers hear from lots of applicants. They meet with even fewer. They read tons of resumes from honor roll students on the dean’s list and over-achieving academic all-stars. But they do not see many handwritten thank-you notes. 

I do intend to fully force my sons to write thank you notes against their will when their handwriting gets more legible pass along the note-writing practice. Until then, if you’re reading this and gave either Tucker or Taylor a birthday present, attended one of their birthday parties, or supported our family in another beautiful and kind way, your “thank you” note is in production as we speak…

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