This year, Boxing Day was also designated national thank-you note day. It was no doubt a PR campaign instigated by stationery manufacturers, but it highlights a worrying trend, which is that the tradition of writing thank-you notes for gifts received is fast disappearing.
When I was a child, we automatically wrote thank-you letters to all the aunts who had sent us ten bob notes for Christmas. It would have been discourteous, nay unthinkable, not to do so. And when my own grandchildren were small, their parents also forced them to sit down and painfully write thank-you letters for gifts received.
Now that they are teenagers and can no longer be dragooned into writing a letter, it never even occurs to them. But when you have gone to a lot of trouble to choose the right present, wrap it up and get it to the recipient on time, surely the least they can do is to return the compliment by writing a thank-you note?
Sitting down and writing thank-you notes used to be a standard post-Christmas ritual but now, who bothers, children or adults?
Some people argue that handwritten thank-you notes have gone the way of spats, watch chains and calling cards and that these days, an email or text will do just as well. Or nothing, often as not.
Yet electronic ways of saying thank-you, even if they do indicate a certain level of politeness, are not the same. They disappear and are soon forgotten, yet a thank-you note sent through the post can last for ever. You have to sit down with a pen –with any luck a fountain pen - think of something to say, put the note in an envelope, stick a stamp on it and take it to the postbox. It all takes effort and is an act of caring. And the note must be handwritten, not typed.
Also the pleasure, these days, that receiving a handwritten letter gives, is incalculable. Like most people these days, my post consists mainly of bills and flyers for pizza restaurants, so a nice letter coming through the post is a wonderful surprise that lifts up my day.
All card shops have boxes of thank-you notes on their shelves, so before it’s too late, why not revive a wonderful old tradition and send all your loved ones a handwritten thank-you note?
They will cherish it– and you - for ever!