Abby: Advice on writing thank-you notes

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: The issue of thank-you notes comes up often in your column. May I share how I learned to write them? When I was young, my mother asked me one day why I was so resistant. I said I hated addressing them and I never knew what to say! It was overwhelming to me.

Mother taught me some phrases such as, "I appreciate your thoughtfulness," and ways to close like, "I hope to see you again soon." She gently reminded me that the sooner I wrote, the easier it would be to express words of gratitude. She also made a deal with me: If I quit complaining and procrastinating, she'd address them for me until I turned 18.

When I turned 18, she gave me an address book filled with the addresses of our family and friends, beautiful new stationery and a book of stamps. In case you're curious, my 18th birthday gifts were all acknowledged with thank-you notes addressed by me! I'm 22 now, and I have never missed a note.

Sarah B., Ansonia, Conn.

Dear Sarah B.: Thank you for your charming letter. Your mother was not only a good negotiator, she also taught you a skill that will be valuable as you grow older.

I print letters about this subject so often because of the number of complaints I receive about the failure to receive a thank-you note. When a gift (or check) isn't acknowledged, the message it sends is that the item wasn't appreciated, which is insulting and hurtful.

Chief among the reasons people don't send thank-you notes is that they don't know what to say and are afraid they'll say the wrong thing. That's why my booklet, "How to Write Letters," was written. It contains samples of thank-you letters for birthday gifts, shower gifts and wedding gifts, as well as those that arrive around holiday time. It also includes letters of congratulations and ones regarding difficult topics — including letters of condolence for the loss of a parent, spouse or a child. It can be ordered by sending name, mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to Dear Abby Letters Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.) Use it to tailor your own messages. With the holiday season approaching and people sending gifts and greetings through the end of the year, this is the perfect time to reply with a handwritten letter, note or well-written email.

Dear Abby: My question is very simple, Abby. Who determines right or wrong in your life, your opinions, your column? This will tell me all I need to know about your wisdom or advice.

Ron in Michigan

Dear Ron: Actually, I think your question is anything but "simple," and the answer is: I DO.

Contact Dear Abby or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.