When I was a child my mother forced me to write thank-you cards whenever I received a gift. Perhaps this is considered an archaic practice, but the lesson was learned by this little girl, though not before many 100s of forced practice runs. I came to understand that not only was it something important for me to do, but it was also a kind of receipt; a checkmark for the giver, especially those who send things from a distance. By sending a card of thanks, they knew that the item made it to its intended destination in proper order.
Nowadays the “card” can be via phone, email, FB or other transmission, but cards are still my favorite, both to give and to receive. I like to craft cards myself and these are what I send to people through the post with a little bit of me packed in it. I have passed on the sending a thank-you card tradition to my kids with many a stern warning. It was a struggle for a while, but I think my children now understand the importance of this very small but significant step. My children have been on the receiving end of cards as well, and if you have never seen a child’s face light up when they get personal mail, well you have missed out entirely on one of the brightest sunrises this life has to offer. They understand that what they feel when a card comes to them in the mail is what they give to another when they send a card out.
It also keeps us humble, for being on the receiving end and acknowledging it. Like so much in nature, our joy is interconnected with how others treat us and our reactions. Life is so much fuller and richer when we have other people in our lives who care about us and give us gifts to increase our joy. Not only does the gift move us towards that joy, but the thought from the friend who gives it increases our joy. So, we at this hous,e are card-senders. Not that we don’t also employ the occasional email and phone call, but we prefer the tangible piece of ourselves to say thanks.