Sunday, March 15, 2009

An Attitude of Gratitude

Do you want to know one of my favorite jokes?

Why don't Southern women make good prostitutes?
Too many thank you notes to write.

It kills me every time. Because it's true. A Southerner is taught early on about the art of writing thank you notes. Even if you aren't old enough to pen it yourself, your mom is writing it on your behalf and asking you to scrawl your fledgling autograph on it or scribble a "masterpiece" of thanks. It's not just a rote task though. It is a nice habit of taking a moment to reflect upon someone's graciousness or thoughtfulness. Someone who made you a meal or sent a gift or even shared with you some fruit from their garden has gone to some effort in spite of their very busy life to show you they care, that they're thinking of you. It makes you feel special, even loved at times. And I think one of the nicest things you can do in return is to let them know that you noticed and appreciated it.

Although some people may not have been taught this practice, it's never too late to learn and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the feedback you receive and how easy it really is. I think practicing gratitude is something we'd all benefit from today. I mean really. We have so much. Even in the wake of this economic downturn. It wouldn't hurt to spend a few minutes each day being grateful for food, friends, work, clothes, electricity, etc. I don't mean to be preachy, but I do think making a conscious effort to acknowledge it is good for the individual and collective soul.

The Art of Writing Thank You Notes
1. Get something to write on. As you might imagine, I'm a bit of a stationery fanatic. I'm really digging these notecards from Room Service Home at the moment, but anything is fine. Yes, you can go out and buy a single thank you card from your local Hallmark store, but you can get a box of cards from your local drugstore for less than $10. Or if you want to get creative, go to an arts and crafts store and buy plain notecards or card stock that you can decorate with a rubber stamp.
2. Don't worry about poor penmanship. Typing on computers may have ruined our handwriting but, trust me, your chicken scratch will be endearing to the recipient.
3. Just say thank you. You should acknowledge the gift or the thoughtfulness and say something specific or personal about it. Like, "Thank you, Grandma, for the birthday check. I treated myself to a cook book that I've been wanting. When I cook from it, I'll think of you." It does not have to be a dissertation or fine literature.
4. Put it in the mail as soon as possible. We are all busy, but you should make your thanks a priority.

Is an email thank you note acceptable? Well, it's certainly better than nothing but it really doesn't have the same effect as receiving a note in the mail. I will often send a quick email of thanks right away just to let them know that I received the gift or enjoyed seeing them last night but I'll always follow-up with a formal note that I mail.

I wanted to practice my own advice and spend a few minutes being grateful for my friends who made my weekend so fun. Del, a corporate executive who works her tail off at the office and then cares for her eight month old, had "the girls" over for a homemade supper on Friday. I always feel so loved when someone bakes me a meal. It's primal — someone providing food for you. And we can all use a night off from cooking or cleaning dishes. And it takes extra effort to cook and entertain with a crying baby.

Bret and Tamara hosted a tapas party on Saturday. We all devoured tasty Spanish treats and sipped some excellent wines. Aftering stuffing ourselves, we sat outside by the fire pit and listened to Sam and George play guitar, then came inside to dance to old vinyls when we ran out of firewood, and then progressed to drinking whiskey until the wee hours of the morning.

I was decidedly ungrateful for my headache this morning, but it was outshined by memories of an epic night with friends.

So excuse me now as I go write my thank you notes.


  1. This blog is awesome. I just subscribed. Keep it up! Eric "El Chubasco" Junker.

  2. thanks, EJ, for being my first follower! i appreciate the support.

  3. Holley, I love your thoughts on thank you notes. I'm always such a lagger that sometimes even if I write it early it takes me forever to put it in the mail. You've inspired me to be more thankful :-)