Thank Yous, Thank You Notes and Why They Matter

“Thank you!” How often do we hear those two meaningful words? If a server at a restaurant is bringing your lunch to your table, a “thank you” means something; you appreciate the person bringing you food that you didn’t have to make yourself. If someone holds the door for you, then “thank you” means an acknowledgement of that kindness.

Of course there have been times that we have gone out of our way to help someone and have never heard a word of thanks. But really, that’s all right. The point is that 1) we noticed that someone needed help, 2) we could help, and 3) the help we gave made that moment in time a bit easier for that person.

Certainly a ‘thank you’ for that tiny act of kindness is nice, but if it doesn’t happen, that’s still all right.

Then there is the thank you note issue. While thank you notes appear to have gone by the wayside, they still matter. When you take the time to remember someone’s birthday, anniversary, birth of a child, death of a loved one, a new marriage, and so on, it is an acknowledgement of a special occasion. It tells the recipient that you care about them.

Somehow an email or a text message just doesn’t say as much as a handwritten note. When my mother died, we received so many loving notes of kindness. They became a sort of soft blanket that warmed and comforted us. The fact that so many remembered her and loved her and now missed her meant the world to my dad and me.

While Mom was in Hospice, so many of her PEO sisters sent her funny and beautiful cards almost daily. One wonderful woman, Jane, sent her an Avanti card each week, all depicting cats in funny situations. One that I have kept is a picture of a tiger cat wearing black-rimmed glasses, lying on her back on a sofa, holding a newspaper with both paws. It looked exactly what Mom would have looked like if she were a cat, saying “can’t you see that I’m READING?” I still have it and am going to have it framed.

I kept all the cards Mom got, and there were dozens upon dozens of them. When she died, I put some of the ones she had loved into the coffin with her. After the funeral was over, I wrote thank you notes to every person who had sent cards to her and/or Dad and me. This is something I had promised Mom that I would do.

I wanted every person to know how much those cards meant to us. It felt like all the love and kindness written in those cards held Dad and I up throughout all the trappings of the end of a beautiful life.

So yes, thank yous matter. Thank you notes matter. Congratulatory cards matter. Sympathy cards matter. They are a reminder that we are not alone, that those life events we go through are noticed and that people care. It takes such a little time to write a note to someone, and we may never know what that note may mean.

As a grateful recipient of so many kind and thoughtful notes, I will never forget how they made me feel and how they lifted me up. Thank yous are not a small thing; to many, they are everything.

PS: By the way, and I say this in the kindest way possible; the right answer to someone saying “thank you” is not “no problem.” The correct answer is “you’re welcome.”