For some it never went away; and for some, made as a child to sit down at the kitchen table with paper and pen on Boxing Day afternoon when all you wanted to do was read a new book or play with a new game, it was never allowed to go away.
Whether my friends fall into either of the above categories, or whether they are just now rediscovering their joys, the sending and receiving of thank you cards seems currently to be abounding.
And I don’t mean a thank-you text, or a hastily rattled off email, or – as is increasingly the case now – a thank-you tweet. I mean, an old-school; handwritten; honest-to-goodness; comes-in-an-envelope; needs-a-stamp-and-everything thank-you letter.
In these days when even Debrett’s says that a thank-you email is acceptable (frankly, I think these might be the end of days. Either that, or there’s someone at Debrett’s who needs a good, sharp slap), and when most post is either junk or bills, there’s something wonderful about a nice, thick envelope propped up in the communal hall’s letter rack, with familiar yet not immediately identifiable handwriting across the front.
The Writer and I have been the recipients of several lovely thank-you cards of late, and each one has been met with surprise and delight. Because none of the cards was expected; each clearly took time out of the sender’s day to write; and none of the things for which the cards were sent were things for which we went out of our way.
Whether we’ve put people up on an overnight jaunt to London; had PolitiGal and her (relatively newish) chap, The Spectator, over for a boozy couples’ dinner; or hosted a Sunday lunch in which the teeny, tiny trifles seemed to leave people far drunker than the numerous preprandial gins and tonic, or the bottles and bottles of during-dinner wine, none of these things are done other than for the sheer enjoyment of the thing itself and with no expectation of anything in return.
Which somehow makes it all the lovelier that our guests felt inspired (or at least went to the effort to look like they were inspired) to put a few words of thanks down on paper and send it our way.
Because, frankly, even in the most achingly hip of Grandly Designed domiciles (which Chez Nous is not), or the homiest of homes (which I’d like to think we’re getting some way towards being), there’s always, but always, space to be found for a well-thought out thank-you letter.