I admit I have a gift for writing and encouraging. I send out many cards, notes and handwritten letters to people every month. I also am well aware that, these days, it is rare for this to happen in the old-fashioned way. Applying ink to paper, putting it in an envelope, licking that vile stuff and attaching a stamp (which you no longer have to lick praise God!) and actually having a postman deliver your message rather than tapping on the keyboard and sending it into the Great Beyond! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am a better person because I do this. Writing and sending snail mail is simply something I actually enjoy doing. So much so, that I have two pen pals. I’ll bet you didn’t even think anyone did that anymore. My pen pals are very young and often look to me for advice and sharing experience. I love sending words of encouragement and thanks to people. But part of that gift is simply good manners and courtesy. Something that is greatly underrated in today’s culture.
When was the last time you got a hand-written note of thanks for something you sent as a gift or just because you wanted to? I could take this a step further and ask when was the last time you even got a thank you of any kind? Be it by e-mail or by phone? How often have you asked for an RSVP and gotten no response? How long has it been since you sent a birthday card or an anniversary card or just a little note of sympathy or compassion for someone else’s misfortune or difficulty?
These little breaches in common courtesy (which isn’t common any more) and kindness are becoming so much the norm that if we do get a note of appreciation we are astounded. Likewise if one doesn’t get a note of appreciation, that, too, is long remembered and may result in the recipient getting fewer gifts in future.
Courtesy is a learned behavior, not a gift or talent. Good manners are taught…hopefully at a young age. I remarked to a friend recently that I remember when children were sent to classes to learn good manners and how to conduct oneself in public. Cotillions taught etiquette, respect and common morals and parents taught their children to say please and thank you and call adults by Mr, Miss and Mrs. Times have greatly changed and some of those changes have not been good. Our society has taken casual to the extreme.
In our home, good manners have always been the norm. Courtesy has been our policy and respect for one another a family rule. Several times in recent months Dan and I have been the recipient of sweet, messy hard-to-read thank you notes lovingly written by our tiny grandchildren who can barely hold a pencil or crayon. Those notes warm my heart and make me thankful we were adamant our children remember their manners when they were so young.
Hardly a day goes by that Dan and I don’t receive a thank you note from someone who is grateful for something they have read or heard from our materials. We don’t take those notes lightly. We read them and talk about them and keep them in a special place of honor. Because we know how rare common courtesy is these days, we feel very honored when people take the time to communicate their appreciation by written letter.
So here’s a challenge for you. In the next few days, take time to write a note of appreciation or thanks to someone you know would love to hear those words from you. I promise you will feel better for having done it and the recipient will feel very blessed by your effort and thoughtfulness. Then go a step further and do it again in a few weeks. You may be surprised at the response you get from others and how kindness and courtesy comes back around to bless you in unexpected ways.