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Notable Manners

Saying thank you will never fall out of fashion

By ROBIN COWIE NALEPA
rnalepa@thestate.com

Pen, paper and gratitude. All it takes to write a thank-you note.

Yet, in an age of instant everything, a simple, handwritten thank-you is becoming increasingly rare. E-mail and bad manners threaten to stamp out the gracious gesture.

Gerry Sue Arnold, 67, of Columbia keeps personal stationary and stamps on hand so she can easily send a note of thanks.

I was brought up that way, to be considerate, said Arnold, 67. My generation, that's what we do.

Arnold said she expected to receive thank-you cards from those to whom she sends wedding and baby gifts.

If you send someone a gift, you worry if they get it. How would you know they ever got it if they didn't send a note? she asked.

Thank-yous are a wonderful way to recognize the effort of the gift giver, said Cindy Grosso, owner and founder of the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette. If you write a thank-you, you will be recognized for the time and effort you took to be gracious.

People really like that, Grosso said. When you get a handwritten note in the mail, that's the one you open.

Warren Thomas thinks writing an appropriate thank-you note is a way to set yourself apart from others, though he admits he doesn't always enjoy writing such notes.

As members of the USC golf team, Thomas, 20, and teammates write thank-yous to those involved in tournaments they attend.

We kind of dread it sometimes, but in the long run it's a good thing, he said. A lot of people will remember your name.

Charlotte Gibson believes in saying thank you, too.

I was raised that you didn't use a gift till you wrote a thank- you note, said Gibson, an employee of BurlapFine Papers.

Gibson thinks electronic technology and the Internet have killed the art of writing.

The personal touch of a hand-written letter says so much more than an electronic hello, she said.

Is an e-mail thank-you ever appropriate?

I used to say no to e-mails, but I don't feel that way anymore, Grosso said. An e-mail thank-you is better than no thank-you.

Grosso thinks the reason more people don't send handwritten notes is twofold: time and awareness.

Some people don't know when to send the notes; others worry it will take them too long to write one.

Not so, she said.

It only takes three, maybe four sentences, Grosso said. You can write it in two minutes.

As for the rules for personal thank-yous, Grosso tries to keep it simple.

Etiquette suggests you write a thank-you when you can't thank the giver in person and if you do not open a gift in the giver's presence, she said.

In some cases, a written note may not be required, but a thank-you note is never wrong, she said.

She also suggest not using cards preprinted with Thank you:

Those are words etiquette says you should say yourself.

To properly address the envelope, use black ink and add the formal Mr., Mrs. or Ms. to the recipient's name.

Late saying thank you? Don't worry, Grosso says.

A late thank-you is better than no thank-you. Try to get it out as quickly as possible. But things happen; people understand.

In the end, thank-you notes are about being gracious and showing appreciation.

And as Gerry Sue Arnoldsaid, It's just good manners.

Reach Nalepa at (803) 771-8654.

EVEN IF YOU HATE IT...

What if you hate the fuzzy pink toaster cover you received for your birthday from your Aunt Lola? You still should write a thank-you note, experts say. Show your appreciation for the time, effort and money spent giving you the gift, no matter what it is. What might your note say in this case:

Dear Aunt Lulu,

You are so thoughtful to remember me on my birthday. The pink toaster cozy you sent sure brightened my day and the kitchen. How ever did you find such a one-of-a-kind item? Hope to see you soon.

Love,

Chris

SAYING THANKS

In The Art of Thank You: Crafting Notes of Gratitude, author Connie Leas offers the following tips on showing appreciation:

A note of thanks can be as short as three sentences.

 Make an effort to be enthusiastic. Show your appreciation for the thought and effort.

 Refer specifically to the present, not just the gift but the fondue set.

 Make a detailed remark about the qualities of the gift.

 Include reasons you like it.

 Use a closing sentence.

 Mail the note as soon as possible.

Author: Robin Cowie Nalepa

Source: The State Paper, Columbia, SC

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