I love my Southern roots. Everything about them. The food, the hospitality, the magnolia trees, the drawl. All of it. But most especially, the gracious way of living. I think back often to the way I saw it modeled by my grandmother. And one thing stands out.
The Southern thank you note. Southern thank you notes have spoiled me for all others.
We have just recently passed one of the most intensive gift-giving seasons of the year, ripe with weddings and graduations, and we are headed directly into another…the holiday season. Since May, we have given approximately one dozen gifts to acknowledge and celebrate some of life’s most joyous occasions. From that, we are now the proud possessors of two hand written thank you notes. And of that we are proud and…in a good way… slightly shocked. I’ve noticed that the hand-written thank you note has almost gone the way of the dinosaur.
An email or text or even an IM seems to suffice, no matter how generous the gift or old the recipient. After all, everybody knows how busy we are, right? Sure. And I’m grateful to receive those acknowledgements. But I’ve never gotten this kind of thank you “note” from someone reared in the South or with Southern roots.
Have you ever sent someone a gift and then had to ask them a month later if they received it, to make sure you didn’t need to follow up with FedEx or Amazon or your credit card company? I’ll just bet you have. I’ve had this happen several times, too, but never with someone reared in the South or with Southern roots.
Then there’s the “thank you note” that consists of the obligatory few lines scribbled on a card that could have been mass produced and mailed to anyone. I’ve received a few of these, but never from someone reared in the South or with Southern roots.
And yet there still remains the beautiful suitable-for-framing Southern thank you note, complete with mention of the gift, how it will be used, and the kindness, thoughtfulness, and love behind it.
Let me give you a real life example. Thank you note #1: “Thank you very much for the graduation gift. It will be most useful in my future college endeavors.” —Regina.” Notice the lack of greeting. If we have forgotten what we gave Regina, there is no help here. I’m not even sure Regina knows what we gave her. That said though, this is still a good start, however bare bones it may be. It has potential and with a little fleshing out could almost sound like it hailed from Dixie. Regina, as you may have guessed, is not a Southerner.
Compare that to this one. Thank you note #2: “Dear Jim and Carol. Thank you so much for the Target gift card. You are so kind to think of me and so generous to send me a gift. I used the gift card to buy some clothes and shoes for my new job. I’m so thankful for the kindness you have shown me. Thank you again. Love, Mary Virginia.” I’ll bet I don’t have to tell you where Mary Virginia lives.
I want you to know how grateful I am for every thank you card or message I have ever received, however it is delivered. Truly. The fact that someone would care enough to take the time, effort, and energy to respond to my gift is noted and appreciated. Their caring and thoughtfulness, expressed by saying thank you, encourages me and builds connection between us.
How delightful is the truly heartfelt thank you note. To help you write one, consider these simple tips: 1) Mention the gift. 2) Tell how you will use it. 3) Thank the gift giver. 4) Note the kindness, thoughtfulness, and love that prompted the giver to give you the gift. 5) Make the note more about the giver than about yourself…this is just good manners, something Southerners are known for.
I cherish my Southern roots. I realize I have been given a gift and I am grateful. Thank you seems so inadequate. Now throw in a pecan pie and you’ve really got something there…