Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thank You Notes

“Thank you notes, how quaint and old fashioned,” said a 65-year-old friend recently. Ann had said how much she appreciated getting such notes after giving a dinner party. Friend said she never sends any. That person says she is often lonely. I wonder if there is a connection?

My teen grandchildren always send a thank you note or email when I send them money for their birthdays, graduations and for Christmas. Their mothers urge them to do so perhaps threatening that Grandpa expects a thank you note if you expect to get any further gifts. My daughters are right.

The point is not future expectations of more gifts or invitations. Thank you notes are good for the giver. When we have dinner with friends they have given us a gift of time and money. Our hosts have gone to the store, paid for the food, taken time to prepare, cook and serve the meal. Perhaps they served drinks or wine, provided dessert, coffee and after dinner drinks. The home was clean and made ready for our visit. We were welcomed into their home. They fed us food and showed their interest and concern and perhaps even love for us. What a wonderful gift they have given us, a free gift, a grace.

Hospitality makes us feel grateful for friends and generosity. If it doesn’t perhaps we have not sat back and given much thought to this gift we have been given. Do we take it for granted that we deserve this gift? Or do we think it is quaint and old fashioned and we don’t have to do it anymore? Is it just a reflection of the “me generation” giving no thought to others? Is it that it just isn’t done?

When you don’t send the note, e-mail or telephone call expressing thanks, the giver of the gift is not acknowledged for their time and generosity, they are not thanked for their care of you. When you do send that thank you note, you are reminded once again that people love you and want to serve and perhaps even help you if needed. You sense how fortunate you are to have friends who will feed you. You know that you are able to give pleasure to other persons by responding to their generosity.

The whole world yearns for acknowledgement, to be thanked. There is no way we can give thanks enough for all we have been given. When I was rector of a parish, each year at Thanksgiving time I would say to the congregation, “You can never thank me enough for all that I have do for you. And there is no way I can never thank you enough for what you do for me.”

Those of us of a religious bent know that all that we have and all that we are, are gifts from God. We did not earn our bodies, brains and health. They are free gifts to us, and for these and all our gifts and blessings we give thanks to God.

A fully mature grown up human being, an authentic human being, is one who lives a life grateful for all one has and is. Saying thank you to our friends, spouses and to our children is a way of strengthening and acknowledging them and affirms our own awareness of our dependence on others.

So the quaint, old fashioned, polite, caring and thoughtful writing of a thank you note is as important for us as it for our host and gift-giver.


Anonymous Fred Fenton said...

Alas, thank you notes seem to be a thing of the past. It is not just young people who fail to express their thanks in writing or with a phone call.

I know a retired priest and his wife who sent a big check to their bishop without ever hearing from him in reply.

My wife and I have entertained couples for dinner, doing our best to show them a good time, without receiving acknowledgment of any kind.

To all of this I say, "They didn't have a mother like mine!"

12:18 PM  

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