Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino
christmas is over. santa has hopefully come and gone at your house and now that all the wrappings are up off the floor, you may have some additional people to thank. but how do we say it? we all know how the letter to santa goes:
here is my list of gifts i would like you to bring me: (fill in the blanks)
please bring me as much as possible if not all of it. i’ve been good. all year.
but is there a standard form for the thank you note you write on the flip side? our mothers taught us to be polite and tell the person how thankful we feel. but what if finding ten words for how we feel about the blue sweater makes us feel like we’re climbing mt. everest? maybe it’s not about the sweater.
the etiquette experts write that the proper thank you should still be written by hand and sent in the snail mail. it should start with “thank you for the _____”, and end with “thank you again for the ______________.” no note is needed if the person lives in the same house with you and a note to someone you’ve already thanked in person is best but optional. i don’t have any set rules to offer. but i learned my gold standard for writing thank you cards at christmas and every other time of the year from the same person who taught me to write these notes in the first place. my mother.
every year on my birthday when i was a young girl, she sent me a note to thank me for being her daughter. she described her impressions and feelings for me in the most wonderful, beautiful and thoughtful words that i knew were sincere and meant only for me because i could feel each one of them lift off the page and float gently into my heart. and that is where those words remain to this day.
which reminds me that a perfect note may be the one that does not give thanks first for the sweater but for but person who gave the sweater. who they are to us. a friend you cannot imagine a christmas without. your cousin you haven’t seen for years but still somehow knows the exact right funny thing to send you. the person to whom you can say, “you mean so much to me” and “i love you.” sincerely.
and what if the note goes to someone who is not your favorite for a sweater you wouldn’t wear out of the house on a dare? this may end up being the the most important note of all for us to write. to appreciate that if nothing else, they took their time and made an effort to think of us and buy and wrap a gift that arrives on time so that we may have another surprise to open and discover. often within ourselves. we discover our compassion and gratitude for realizing that underneath all of the gifts, what we all crave at our core is to be appreciated. we can let the person and what’s given, as well as ourselves, be enough.
and so i write this note to you, knowing that it may not be delivered in the perfect form but sent with my sincerity. which is the only starting point:
dear __________(fill in your name)
thank you for being my new (and some not so new) friends. our connection has opened up a world to me i could not begin to understand a year ago and a joy i would never have imagined. i am so grateful.