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What's the Right Way to Say Thank You?
There's also the little matter of how to properly write a thank-you note. There is the school of thought that the exact gift and its uses ought to be detailed, but I admit that sometimes I feel uncomfortable writing things like, "Thanks for the money!" And of course, there is the phenomena of uber-polite people like my mother-in-law who will actually write you a thank you note for your thank you note. (Where does it end?)
All of which is to say, what is the right way to thank a person? In her interesting piece on The Millions, novelist Henriette Lazaridis Power writes about that most literary of thank yous, the authors' acknowledgements: "Every book comes with a second narrative, that of its creation."
Power notes that the acknowledgments for Robin Black's If I Loved You I Would Tell You This made her weep in part because they were so detailed and personal that reading them felt like eavesdropping. After all, "At their best, acknowledgments can be finely-wrought short stories with the author as protagonist."
The article addresses the way various famous authors have dealt with the acknowledgment issue. Anne Patchett told Power that she felt authors ought to express their gratitude personally in hand-written inscriptions to the people they wanted to thank: "If the gratitude is sincere, convey it directly to the person who deserves it."
It's true for all of us, even if we are simply writing thank-you notes. After all, as Powers suggests, acknowledging who we are thankful for tells us a lot about our own life story. Her piece reminded me of the power of the hand-written note, crafted with care and sent to the person who deserves our gratitude (whether they've recently sent us a present or not) and inspired me to thank with greater care. After all, I have a lot of people to feel grateful toward. And if any of them happen to be reading this and grumbling about a tardy thank you...I am on it!
Being thankful is good for you.
Why it's harder to receive than to give.
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