Dozens of student recommendation letters and three thank-you notes.
Thank you. Two words that probably top the most frequently used phrases in our language.
There are many tones (heart-felt, sarcastic, nonchalant) and modes (verbal, email, text) in which to send a thank-you.
My favorite? The handwritten note.
When I was growing up, my mom always made me write thank-you notes to my relatives and friends whenever I received a gift, even if I was able to say “thank-you” in person. And then I married my husband. In his family, a verbal thank-you over the phone suffices at Christmas and birthdays. While I’m grateful that there is no expectation on his family’s side to send a note, my own children will be taught the way I was taught. Not because I think my way is better, but because, to me, nothing says “thank-you” like letting your pen bleed onto a piece of card stock.
During my years of teaching, I have written more college recommendation letters than I’d care to think about. This is not an easy task. Crafting a personalized letter for a student can take as much as thirty minutes to an hour. Quite a sacrifice of time when you already work fifty-plus hours a week. Of all the letters I’ve written, I’ve received a handwritten thank-you note from three of my students. Guess how many of those notes I still have? Three. There is power in a person’s handwriting. It tells me I was worth the sacrifice of their time to communicate their feelings in a very personal way.
Some things in life only need a verbal thank-you. Some things only need a text that reads “thanks!” Some things only need that two-word email.
But the handwritten note? That’s the vintage wine of thank-yous.