Some personal stories
I always had a deplorable notion of thank-you notes. I used to dread writing them, as they were an act of obligation, and usually addressed to distant relatives. Then, last summer, I went to a birthday party for a co-worker at a bar. I didn't know her very well, but she had invited me along and so I brought her a card and made an appearance.
When I next saw her at work, she smiled and pulled a little note out of her pocket and gave it to me. It was fluorescent pink, just a folded paper about two or three inches square, that read
You helped to make my birthday even more special. Thanks for coming!
It was by no means an extensive or complex note, and it hadn't taken her very long. She had been sick after drinking so much and had made Thank-you Notes for everybody who had came while lying in bed. But it still made me feel appreciated and had an impact on me.
I've remembered that note months later, when helping organizing a charity art show/coffee night. I got some of the kids in an art class I helped out with to donate or create some art. Out of the five or six classes I talked to, only about a dozen took a few minutes to do a sketch or something we could sell.
I wanted to show them how much I appreciated their contributions, and made each of them little cards thanking them personally and telling them they had helped make the night a success. I've never felt so good giving a thank you note.
About six months ago, a friend died in a car accident. I was never too close to him, but he was in my circle of friends and I had known him longer than most, as he was one of three others who accompanied me from middle school to our art high school. I was away from school the day he died and was told over the phone. Later on that night, the doorbell rang and I opened it to an old boyfriend. Like me, he had gone to our middle school. He had known I was away from school and looked up my address in the phone book (I had moved since I knew him). We don't talk much at all - but he had driven up to my house to tell me in person.
I thought about this gesture for a few days. I'm not overly comfortable talking to him but I wanted to thank him for a measure of respect and maturity amidst a thousand callous remarks. So I gave him a note a few days later that simply said
Thanks for coming by my house. It's not often you find people willing to overcome obstacles such as these to do the right thing. I wanted you to know I really appreciate it.
He gave me one of the best hugs I've ever gotten.
Thank-you cards are win-win situations when they're genuine.