“No, thank you, ” I replied to the sales associate in the store who asked if he could help me. His response: “You aren’t from around here, are you?” I laughed and said, “No, but how did you know that??? I only said three words!” Then I realized my first words must have sounded like, “Nohhh, thank yew” to those Midwestern ears. Being from the South, I often mimic Elvis and the ‘thank ya’, thank you very much’ attributed to him. Ya’ know, we say those words often in the South. There is always someone or something we are thankful for down there.
I received the nicest thank you note the other day from a sweet lady. It made my day. She took the time to buy a lovely card, describe how much she liked the gift I had mailed, and pop a stamp on it. Totally impressed me, because…..I must confess…I am a… THANK YOU NOTE SNOB.
It goes back to my maternal grandmother, Sarah. She taught my mother, Sue, how to write appropriate and gracious Thank You Notes (TYN- will abbreviate from here on out). Granny also expected a TYN for any gift she sent. There may or may not have been comments made from her in my presence about people who didn’t fulfill their expected duty of acknowledging a gift with at TYN. I remember being asked to write my TYNs in the afternoon on Christmas Day for all of my gifts from relatives so it would be accomplished efficiently. Even now, I will often place a gift to the side- won’t wear it or eat it or use it-until I have written the TYN. Legalistic=yes. Effective=yes.
Now, I am not perfect in this area as I have succumbed to the era of the email and text. Sometimes, I have deferred to the “quickie” TYN just to make sure I acknowledge it to the giver. However, I will most certainly take the time to write if the giver has gone out of his/her way to do or give me something special.
I still try to write TYNs to Mom and Dad for Christmas and birthday gifts and checks. This habit has spilled over to Andy. He has learned that I expect it and that it is good for him to write TYNs (to other people, not me) to keep a happy home. It has been UBER important for him to do this as he has had to raise financial support for this church planting gig. Kristi can be a NAG if he doesn’t get those TYNs out in a timely manner!
This has led to MUCH disappointment over the years. My bad. Early on in life, in marriage, and in ministry, I bought graduation gifts for FIFTEEN high school seniors in a church where Andy served as student pastor. Of course, we were thanked upon the spot by many of the teenagers. However, I received only ONE written (1) TYN. I was SHOCKED! It took a while to get over, really. After about a month, I was able lift my jaw up off the floor and stop shaking my head. I judgingly classified lots of people that month. Eeek. That experience shaped me. From that point on, I rarely bought a graduation gift for seniors in the churches where Andy served. From 1997 to 2013, we received many graduation invitations, but I was just so scarred, I didn’t make a habit of buying all the kids presents. Now, if the student actually invited us to a grad party, I took a gift. I am not that heartless. 🙂
Today, TYNs finally getting their due- THANKS to Jimmy Fallon. Cracks me up.
WAY to GO, Jimmy! You’re bringing TYNs BACK! Whoop-whoop!
You may ask, “WHY do you care so dang much?” Well…..
One of my spiritual gifts is GIVING. I enjoy the hunting, gathering, wrapping, packing, and sending of the perfect gift. If it were lucrative enough, I would quit my job and open up a care package business so I could mail out presents to people all over the world- JUST FOR FUN… AND MONEY.
And I really LOVE it when people express their gratitude. I love to hear that people like what I gave them or made them or baked for them. Now, I will take a text or an email or a phone call. Just SOME acknowledgement. GIVING is a two-edged sword. There are great HIGHS when people give you thanks and great LOWS when gifts are not even acknowledged. Roller-coaster-hoo-hoo.
My thing the last few years has been to send college care packages in the fall to family members, former church youth ministry students, or children of our friends. It has been a BLAST! However, I knew not to expect lots of TYNs going in. Was I ever pleasantly surprised! My heart did a happy flip every time these ‘almost adults’ sent me a text, Facebook message, or an email to express gratitude. I was doubly blessed when their parents acknowleged it. Now, of course, I don’t do it for the TYN- it truly gives me great pleasure to give and love through material things. (Caveat: Now, I have been known to send FB messages to some kids I had not heard from and ask them if they received their packages because there were perishable goods involved. At that point, most responded, verified receipt of the package, and thanked me.)
Anybody out there relate?
Am I alone in this?
Am I weird? Weirder than average?
I guess I have been trained up in the way I should go, and TYNs are just a part of that.
Yes, Honey, they do. You need to take the time and just do it.
November has been deemed the Gratitude Month in the last few years. People have taken to listing what they are thankful for daily on Facebook. Lots of Thankful memes pop up on your FB or Instagram feeds. Well, I would like to suggest a different way to show your just how thankful you are this year.
What about taking the time to WRITE a THANK YOU NOTE?? Here are two experiences I had when I heeded that challenge:
1. While in college, I attended Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis. An elderly pastor (we are talking 90-something) was the guest speaker one Sunday when Dr. Adrian Rogers was away. He shared how important it is to GO BACK and thank people who invested in you. This man told stories about TYNs he had written and the impact they had. So, I went home and wrote a TYN to my elementary Bible teacher (I attended a private Christian school), Mrs. Jo Jackson. I mentioned how her teaching of the Bible was so animated and how she helped me love the stories in the Scripts. I thanked her for requiring us to memorize at least one verse per week as many of those were still hidden in my heart. Mailed it, felt good about it, forgot it.
FAST FORWARD to at least 2 years later when I was in graduate school. My mother and I were out shopping (I think for wedding knick-knack-paddywacks), and I ran into my elementary school principal. She commented that she knew about and appreciated the letter I sent to Mrs. Jackson, and that Mrs. Jackson was so touched that she carried the TYN around in her pocket! Evidently, she carried it to remind her that her work as a teacher made an impact and to give her encouragement on the bad days. Well, Mrs. Jackson happened to be shopping with the principal but was in another part of the store. She walked up, said the same thing, and pulled out the TYN to show me. To say I was floored was an understatement. LESSON LEARNED: Written words full of gratitude can be reread so the recipient can gain encouragement YEARS after the note was penned.
2. About a month or so after little brother went to be with Jesus in 2010, a pastor where we attended in Birmingham challenged the church in a sermon to GO BACK and thank those who helped lead us to Christ. Well, a couple of weeks later, I used FB to thank the two children of one Barbara Dowdy. She taught and sang in Children’s Church every Sunday at Trinity Baptist Church. Her weekly faithfulness and love for the Lord pushed me to Jesus, and I am eternally grateful. I became a Christ-follower at age 5. Ms. Barbara moved on up to Jesus when I was a teenager. Her family and my family have remained friends through the years. Her son, Jeff, and my brother were best friends. Her daughter, Laurie, was my Little Sister in high school when the Senior girls adopted the Freshmen girls. We are forever linked, and I am thankful. However, I had never taken the time to express to her children how much she meant to me until I was an adult.
After I expressed my gratitude to them, I was COMPELLED to thank those who led Greg to Christ. After all, the HOPE my family and I were clinging to every day was the fact that my brother was a follower of Jesus and we would see him again. So, I tried to track down Jeff and Angie Fortson. He was the youth pastor, and she was the lovely youth pastor’s wife who had a great impact on pre-teen and teen Greg. (I still remember his tear-stained face at that summer youth camp they took us to- he was heavily convicted of his sin and was ready to let Christ be the boss.) After asking some of my friends from back home, I found out that they lived in B’ham. I tried a couple of ways to connect over the next few years but was not successful. I continued to keep their names on my “to do” list, even as we moved to Kansas. TWO WEEKS ago, I decided to search for Angie on FB. Found her! Friended her and was able to message her my thanks. Great exhale! LESSON LEARNED: It’s NEVER too late to express your thanks, even if you have to get creative.
THANK YOU for reading. Hope you take the time in November to say/write/type/text a word of THANKS to someone who loved you/gave you something/impacted you. I am pretty sure they will appreciate it.