In 2008, lawyer John Kralik, 53, took writing thank you notes to a new level. 2007 was a terrible year for Kralik, and included a break up with his girlfriend, his law practice failing, and his grown children growing distant with him. While walking on New Year’s day in 2008, he was struck by the thought that his life might be more enjoyable if he could find a way be grateful for what he had. This is where his inspiring thank-you-note story began.
He decided to sit down and write and send a thank you note every single day that year, to family, friends, co-workers, and in one case, the barista at his local Starbucks…” The result is compiled in the book 365 Thank Yous published by Hyperion Books and available at bookstores, inlcuding Portland’s Barnes and Noble, as of December 28, 2010. The publisher writes, “By the time John wrote his 365th thank you note, he’d lost weight, his business was prospering, his children were well and he’d grown closer to them, he’d reconnected with dear friends, his girlfriend had returned—and there were other positive changes in his life, even more profound and surprising.”
In last week’s interview with NPR’s Liane Hansen, Kralik says it was his grandfather who fostered his interest in written gratitude at an early age. “My grandfather, whenever you sent him a thank you note, he would always send you a silver dollar,” Kralik explains. “And then if you wrote him a thank you for the silver dollar, he’d send you another.”
And the difference between an email and a note? Kralik told NPR: “Things we write in cyberspace are so easily deleted and forgotten … buried by the next 30 e-mails we receive,” Kralik says. “In this day and age, a handwritten note is something that people really feel is special.” He sais he is often moved by how many people have saved his notes: “It’s up on their wall,” he says. “It’s like part of you that’s there.” Visit NPR for the full interview, as well as Kralik’s tips for writing good thank you notes.
One of Kallik’s tips is to keep your thank you note short and simple on a 3″ x 5″ note card, “minus fancy frills. That way, there’s no room for anything except your gratitude.” You can keep a stock of blank cards on hand for impromptu thank yous for you and your child. SW Portland has some great paper stores, such as Oblation Papers at Bridgeport Village.
In his article Teach kids how to say thank you the write way, writer Devin White, of the Chicago Sun Times, says that “After Christmas — and before school resumes — is a great time to teach children the importance of writing thank-you notes…Although personal phone calls are a popular way to say thanks, there’s just something special about a hand-written message.”
While people approach the how-to of a thank you note differently, White points out that “children should always send thank-you notes for Christmas gifts. The exception to this rule is if the giver is present and is properly thanked when the gift is opened.”
What if your child can’t write yet? White points out that you can still involve the child by talking with them about what they want to say and by allowing them to write their name, even if it looks like a scribble, and they can use crayons to draw a picture on the note.