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Archive for Monday, June 28, 2010

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Gratitude check: Thank-you cards evolve; the message doesn’t

Store manager Jennifer Holmes, left, helps Lone Star Lake resident Cheryl Flory select a thank-you card for her physical therapist at Rod’s Hallmark, 2329 Iowa.

Store manager Jennifer Holmes, left, helps Lone Star Lake resident Cheryl Flory select a thank-you card for her physical therapist at Rod’s Hallmark, 2329 Iowa.

June 28, 2010

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Despite the popularity of e-mail or Facebook “thank yous,” stores like Rod’s Hallmark still carry a selection of traditional cards.

Despite the popularity of e-mail or Facebook “thank yous,” stores like Rod’s Hallmark still carry a selection of traditional cards.

Thank-you note tips

Keely Chace, co-author of “On a Personal Note: A Guide to Writing Notes with Style,” gives us her tips for how to make sure your thank-you card is a winner:

• Do it. Sitting down to write it is half the battle.

• Be yourself. Write how you would really speak.

• Be specific. Say exactly what it is for which you are thanking the person.

• Compliment the person. Thank them for knowing you so well, knowing what you wanted or being so thoughtful.

• Wrap it up. Close it with a line about it being nice to see that person or that you are looking forward to seeing that person soon.

• The sooner you send it the better. It’s easier to be more genuine and appropriate the sooner you write the card to the reception of the gift.

— Sarah Henning

Thank you.

So easy to say that we drop more than a few of them into daily conversation perhaps without even knowing it. But the art of saying it when you really mean it has been lost on some folks, says Carolyn Bailey Berneking.

It astounds the Lawrence 95-year-old how often she doesn’t get a thank-you card when gifts are sent for occasions big and small.

“(I’ve had) problems with that — of getting this younger generation to say thank you,” Berneking says. “They don’t even thank you for a big gift that you give them, like say for a wedding present, something like that. It’s too bad, it really is.”

Yes, thank-yous do mean a lot: Just because you’re not expecting to receive one yourself doesn’t mean someone on the other end isn’t waiting for one, says Keely Chace, co-author of “On a Personal Note: A Guide to Writing Notes with Style.”

“It’ll mean more to the person receiving it than you anticipate,” says Chace. “(It’s a) keepsake for them. Something that they can hang on to — tangible thanks.”

And it’s precisely that tangibility, and the time it takes to express thanks in a thoughtful manner, that makes thank-you notes actually carry more weight than in times previous to today’s digital world, says Chace.

“I think that the tech culture we live in really makes the handwritten-ness of a thank-you note even more meaningful. I think, whenever possible, it is a good idea to take the time and get out that sheet of note paper, note card, and actually hand-write your thanks to someone. Even without being able to articulate (well), still that will mean a lot that you took the time to do that.”

Berneking says she certainly does appreciate a note, and she takes care to give them as well. She says that while growing up, it would have been considered a slap in the face not to have sent a thank-you card for even the smallest of tokens. And she says, e-mail, and even face-to-face thank-yous, are not the same as a handwritten one.

“I don’t think it’s quite as nice. It takes care of knowing they got it, but I think it’s a little nicer to write it out, like you would a grievance card. You wouldn’t say to somebody, ‘Well, I’m sorry your mother-in-law died’ or something, it would be much nicer to write that down,” Berneking says. As for e-mail? “I think that’s very rude. I really do.”

That said, Sarah Kolell says she doesn’t believe the art of sending thanks is generational, but the way in which we send thanks may be. That’s why her company, Hallmark in Kansas City, now provides e-cards and mobile greetings to go along with the traditional paper thank-yous.

“The need to connect doesn’t change, it’s just the medium in which they can use to connect,” says Kolell, a Hallmark spokeswoman. “I don’t think it would be accurate to categorize it as generational, because I think the written word means as much to me as it does to my mother as it does to my grandmother as hopefully it will to my kids. It’s more the emotional connection that’s important than the age of the sender or the recipient.”

Chace agrees. Though she says she believes a written note is best for getting a heartfelt message of thanks across, anything is definitely better than nothing.

“Especially in the case of gifts, unless a person expressly tells you, ‘Don’t send me a thank you,’ I think it’s a good policy, even if you’ve already given a verbal thanks,” Chace says. “The sooner you do it, the better chance you’ll actually remember the gift and how you felt about receiving it. But the flip side of that is always better late than never.”

It’s always good to have thank-you cards on hand as personal policy, says Jennifer Holmes, manager of Rod’s Hallmark at 2329 Iowa. That way, it’s a lot more difficult to find yourself being unprepared in the event of receiving a gift or a special kindness. And, when choosing, it’s best to go with what catches your eye.

“People usually pick out thank-you cards that either match their personality or the occasion,” Holmes says, before giving an example. “We have a lot of college graduates do that. They tend to get the more plain, simple-looking thank-you cards that may look a little more professional.”

As for Berneking, she says she’s not going to stand for any more rudeness. And she’s ready to give her family some tough love to prove it.

“I have told my grandchildren now, that if I don’t get a thank you, then that’s the last gift that they get for their birthday,” she says, with a serious half-laugh. “I won’t send any more.”

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