A Universal Thank-you Note

My mom taught me and my sisters to write thank-you notes for every gift after every occasion.

We got thank-you notes in our stockings for Christmas. And before Christmas vacation was over, my sisters and I hand-wrote thank-yous to everybody on our very detailed lists. My sisters are still excellent at this. They all have notepads next to their stacks of gifts, and they keep careful track of which relative got what present for whom.

I am not good at this.

And it’s not that I’m not grateful. I promise that I’m grateful! I just… should not make excuses, and instead I should apologize. I’m sorry for my years of missing thank-you notes! So here are a few thank-yous. Better late than never, right?

Dear friends and family,

Thank you so much for the many gifts you have gotten me over the years. I promise that I love them and use them all the time. Hilary- I still use the plastic cups you got me for high school graduation. Same goes to you Nannette- those dish towels are hanging in my kitchen right now! Mrs. Bayba- the pizza stone that I got for my wedding is the most used baking dish in my kitchen. Aunt Cindy, you know about the magical magnets that blew all of our minds that one Christmas, but I also want you to know that my travel makeup lives in a very convenient little travel-themed zipper pouch. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mommy- I get complimented on my purse nearly once a week, no exaggeration. And Jill- the Writer’s Market 2012 is the envy of all the guys at Half-Price Books (and I am currently wearing the pink and black superman t-shirt you got me 8 years ago. I think off you every time I put it on). Daddy- the card you got for my 21st birthday made me bawl like a baby and it is still hanging on my “home” bulletin board to make my home visits even more special. Joy- Every single day I drink out of the mugs you carefully picked out during all your travels abroad. Heidi- Although I love the many gifts you’ve gotten me over the years, the most special are the weekends that I spent with you while I was in high school and you were teaching high school. You introduced me to Harry Potter and taught me how to make enchiladas.

Nan B- I think of you and I think of giant laundry baskets full of cleaning products or food for our Shakes kids. Thank you thank you. Aunts everywhere- I have eaten so much good food because you made it for me, or gave your recipes to me, or chipped in for my wonderful KitchenAid mixer. Thank you. Grandma, I promise that I get your check every birthday and Christmas, although I should call you more often to thank you. And Aunt Dot- two years of amazing memories and joyous companionship and delicious cookies deserve much more than a general thank-you that you will never see, as computers are not your thing. Maybe I’ll write a book about our adventures. ๐Ÿ˜‰ To all of the many waitresses I’ve worked with- thank you for teaching me about smiling on really really crappy days.

Eric and I would love to take anybody through our house to show them the generosity of our friends and family: “This couch was given to us by a UIF supporter.” “This lamp is a gift from Eric’s parents, as is our guest bed, this coat rack, and these pairs of boots.”ย ”ย “Nearly every piece of stylish clothing in Laura’s wardrobe is from her sisters-in-law.” “This blanket is from a different Jenny, as is this cream-and-sugar set.” The list goes on and on…

In fact, Eric’s entire salary is comprised of gifts from friends and family and people who believe in what we do at UIF.

So thank you, thank you, thank you everyone.

Thank you blog subscribers and readers and comment-ers. Thank you newbie writers and inspiring success stories and people in the trenches slogging it out with me. Thank you pastors and volunteers (like Beth who made dinner for 200 kids every week for two years. And Rachel who spends countless hours teaching teenagers how to build things in her own garage with her own tools) and all of their families. Thank you people who are nice to your barista and sometimes even tip her a dollar!

I know this doesn’t make up for years of unwritten thank-yous, and it doesn’t begin to cover the tiniest tip of the generosity iceberg, but as I learned at a conference last year, “if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.”

I just wanted to make sure it happened.

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