"You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
*This post may be a lil long, sorry!
What do the words thankful, grateful and appreciative mean to you? How do you express them in your life?
For me, being thankful comes with quite a bit of humility. It is wonderful when someone says or does something kind for me. When someone takes the time to think of me, I feel blessed. Thinking outside of oneself takes effort and it shows that is being an active participant in the relationship. When I say relationship I don't mean any official relationship-- that kind someone could be a perfect stranger. Regardless of who 'they' are... when someone steps out of their comfort zone or self it makes a difference.
And for those moments, we need to be thankful. In the act of being thankful, that's the part where we do the "return service" to that kind person. We can communicate our thankful heart orally or in written form. Depending on how you know the person or what they may have done, sometimes one or both forms of communication are appropriate.
I always try to send a thank you note when I can. I send thank you notes for gifts, after interviews, fun events with family or friends (ex. my neighbor took me to a Lavender Farm a few months ago- it was sweet of her to take me), when someone goes out of their way to help me, to teachers after I've observed them or substituted for them, and many other occasions.
People should never underestimate the power of a thank you note. They are worth every minute spent as well as every penny for the postage stamp. I'm so thankful that I grew up with this value instilled in me, which is the result of Granny teaching her children well... that led to me learning about thank you notes at a very early age.
Thank you notes are important particularly for gift-giving events (such as weddings, showers, birthday parties etc...). First of all, thank yous let the gift-giver know that their gift was received. Also, thank yous in this case should tell the giver that their time and effort was appreciated-- for the gift as well as their presence at the occasion. When I have received thank yous for these types of events I have felt like I truly mattered to the "event people."
A personal story on this topic... I went to a wedding in August of 2009 and never once received a thank you verbally or in written form. I've been very offended by this because I was good friends with the bride and groom (watched their relationship blossom from the very beginning). I wasn't just some random person at their wedding. My friend Jennifer and I also put together a special scrapbook for them as a wedding gift. Also, prior to the wedding I had been asked to do the slide show for the reception. I spent at least two full days working on it and got frustrated. So, I asked the bride to hand over the task to her father as he was capable of that. Never once did I receive a verbal thank you for my time. Soooo... I'll let you assume how my relationship is with those individuals at this present time. ;-)
And for perspective: In February of 2010, I went to a wedding of a friend from the education program at WOU. Within two months, I received a thank you note for the wedding gift I gave and was thanked for my presence. I had also been to her bridal shower in January and received a thank you note within a couple of weeks (it didn't take long!). I'll let you guess how my relationship is with her currently! :)
Thank you notes are important. They are never a waste and always welcome. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson says, you never know when it might be too late...