Growing up, writing thank you notes was always part of receiving gifts. I vaguely remember it usually happened in a 24-hour span: open gift, ooh and aah, pull out some pretty paper and write a thank you note. Find a stamp–which my grandmother always had in abundance–address the envelope and either walk the card or letter out to the mailbox beside the road that evening, or wait until first thing the next morning.
Receiving gifts was a cycle that was completed only when the thank you note was mailed. It was a habit my grandmother started with me when I was young, and I probably only signed my name to start, progressing to more formulaic thanks as I got older until I evolved to be able to write thoughtful, genuine notes of gratitude.
I picked up a penchant for lovely paper along the way. I might have several boxes of correspondence cards stored in a drawer. Might.
Recently, I realized that I seem to have accumulated more pieces of lovely paper than were actually being used. Blame never having stamps on hand, blame email (my grandmother would probably lose her mind over that one), and blame self absorption.
What was once an ingrained habit had became rusty with lack of use.
Muscle memory is a fantastic thing, though. For the last few months, I’ve been writing thank you notes. Real ones. Some on lovely paper. Some on copy paper that I embellish with doodles I find on Pinterest. Lots for the many people who give E presents.
The more I write, the easier it is, and, miracle of miracles, the happier it makes ME, the one writing the note! I think that feeling of personal joy was not as apparent when I was younger. Back then, I’m sure writing thank you notes felt more like a chore than anything. At present, however, writing thank you notes is a reflective, mindful exercise. I’m able to write about what the gift meant and how it impacted me (or us, if it’s a gift for the both of us). I sit at my tiny kitchen table remembering, writing, and being thankful that someone thought enough of me to send something of meaning. I’ve even begun keeping a few cards near my journal and other writing supplies to make it easier to dash off notes.
The least I can do is write notes of thanks and teach E to do the same. (He already has his own lovely paper.)
This post is part of the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers, who have created a space for writers and teachers of writers to come together. To learn more about this challenge, click here.