It's this time of year that I look longingly at my list of thank you letters still waiting to be written. I say longingly because I'm always longing for someone else to magic them up for me, fill them with something other than 'thanks so much for...' and source correctly spelt names, addresses and stamps. It's an undertaking and a half you know.
A couple of weeks ago, I was having dinner with a group of friends when the thank you letter chat cropped up. Two of us were reminding ourselves to get going on the Christmas round, debating how long you could leave it before it was considered rude. This prompted another friend to ask why we were writing thank you letters at all. Turns out, she's never written one, and has no intention of starting now.
The camp became quite divided. To write, or not to write? The non-writing half didn't consider not writing to be rude, they were more than happy thanking people either verbally or, at most by text or e-mail. The writing half however, had the thank you letter so ingrained into our psyche that the thought of not writing was positively filling us with fear.
One of the non-writers took it a step further, and the following day did a 'company wide' survey on whether or not one should write. Well this opened a can of worms she wasn't expecting. Not only were people fiercely split on whether to write, but how to write was also a major factor. Apparently cards that say 'thank you' were considered totally naff, over enthusiasm for the subject to which you're thanking was considered false, and even saying the words 'thank you' was considered bad form to some, who would rather you just implied your gratitude without actually directly expressing it. I assume she did thank people for their feedback, but presumably not by writing to them.
For some, time is the clincher in saying thanks. Writing a letter by return of post is a little too keen, whereas over a month after is bordering the too late. An ex friend of mine used to count the thank yous that came in after parties and would be more offended by a late sender than by someone who didn't send at all. Hence why she's an ex.
One thing is for sure - saying thank you is a nice thing to do. It makes you feel good, and makes the receiver feel valued. We may not subscribe to the hand written parchments of old, with ruler straight lines and wafty words of gratitude penned from inky quills, but we do still subscribe to basics of liking to give and liking to be thanked.
You've still got just enough time to get in those Christmas thank you's before even the most hardy of receivers would consider you too late. So however you want to say it, get going and say thanks.
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