A popular late-night talk show host has drawn attention to the lost art of writing thank-you notes.
Jimmy Fallon, the host of “The Tonight Show,” writes a handful of notes every Friday on an assortment of topics for which he is grateful such as: “Thank you, peer pressure, for being totally not cool. Unless my friends think it’s cool, then it’s pretty cool, I guess.”
Expressing gratitude in a handwritten note is one of those niceties of our contemporary culture that is often viewed as a post-wedding, post-baby shower, or post-holiday chore: “Oh, those dreaded thank-you notes.”
There are some people among us, however, who delight in writing thank-you notes. One of these people is our own Archbishop Joseph Naumann. In my work for the archdiocese in the office of stewardship and development, we process many gifts of all sizes for many Catholic causes.
I can’t begin to count the many times each week our archbishop uses his sturdy ballpoint pen to write in familiar blue ink a thoughtful note to a fellow Catholic. He takes time to compose each note with a comment unique to the person addressed.
Another person who understood the importance of acknowledging a gift with a personal note was my mother. The envelopes of her thank-you notes were always addressed with an inimitable, artistic, calligraphic flourish.
Although she’s been gone from my sight for the past several years, the memory of her good habit of note-writing remains in my heart.
I recently came across one of her thank-you notes written to me for some small gift for some occasion long-forgotten. In the note, she reminded me of how much she loved me, admired me and cared about me.
She may have been thanking me but, in doing so, she gave me a gift far greater than the value of any gift I may have given to her. She gave me the love and attention that only a mother can give.
In our stewardship, how often do we think about how we express our gratitude for all those who do good things for us and for others — for their kind words, charity, loyalty or compassion? How do we show our gratitude for the many blessings in our lives? A note is a simple, inexpensive gesture, but worth far more. What gift could exceed the value of our time, attention, gratitude, and our humility?
Good stewards say thank you to God in their prayers.