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January 20, 2014

Thank You Cards: No Character Maximum. ~ Kayla Patterson

Communication. In our environment we’re constantly “communicating” which means we should be good at it… right?

Hell, that is even my major. It’s not necessarily the case since the viewpoint and objection has changed. The goal is to reach a larger audience in 140 characters, status updates or group text messages which we all wish we could opt out of at some point.

The act of “communicating” by status updates, tweets, hand gestures or ads does not ensure we are practicing effective communication. My personal goal is to relay a specific message to a specific person/group. From my southern upbringing and simply having parents who value good manners, I learned to ask the following question from those in my life.

Can I have your address?

I forgot how a simple question growing up now sounds foreign. If you are under the age of 21 you probably have never had to worry about the exact location of a friends homestead. Thanks to technology, the physical address isn’t even necessary for the ability to arrive at a friend’s home. You can just “drop a pin.”

Birthday invitations no longer travel solely via the postal service but through e-vites. A reward to the first person who isn’t hard pressed to find a phone book in their home. My lovely phonebook made an instant stage exit straight to the recycling bin.

I’m a firm believe in the written word and I actually mean written from the ink of a pen being transferred to paper. Outside of this time of the year most people don’t send mail to those in their lives. My travels this year I have spent more nights outside of my condo instead of in my own bed and I have still managed to collect thoughtfully prepared messages delivered to my home. These are the actions I cherish.

Here is a hint. If you want to make my heart smile: thoughtful, timely prepared and intentional letters are a perfect start. I receive enough mail in the form of solicitation and bills.

At a young age we should learn to properly and honestly communicate with others. An educational moment on learning to connect gratitude to actions and special events in our lives should be a lesson we carry with us. We’ve all had to write the traditional “thank you” card to our Great Aunt Margaret following high school graduation. A thank you for the $20 bond she gave us is important, however is this our first exposure? Do our parental units teach the value of taking this time and witness the connection it brings? I want to be surrounded by those in my life who value me and a small investment of their time to communicating that.

2014 Challenge: Connect with those we love in our life. (You can repeat these more than once)

1. Write a thank you card and actually mail it to them within three days of the event. Did they prepare a delicious dinner for you, help with a flat tire because you didn’t have AAA, and watch your dogs for an entire month so you can roam around South Carolina? Inspired from my 2013.

2. Send a card “just because.” It doesn’t have to be sappy and can even have a smart-ass undertone if they have your twisted sense of humor. Hopefully you’ve been in an art gallery and been inspired by an inappropriate postcard or found a card that instantly made your heart smile because it reminded you of someone. Buy it, send it, and you’re done. Potentially your John Hancock is the only thing that needs to be applied.

3. If you’re writing by now, there is a high chance that you actually value reading another person’s thoughts. Rip that bad boy out of your favorite magazine while you are sipping on your old-fashioned and mail it to them if it speaks to you. Hyperlinks are great but if the article moves you and reminds you of someone go the extra step and let them hold that same page.

4. It’s my birthday? 5 year old children still need to know that the mailman brings things besides bills for Mom and Dad. Sending a helicopter or iPad rocks but a nice letter addressed to them is such a cool adult thing. We can break their hearts later and let them know your bills actually require money and prompt reply.

5. Travel. Meet new people. Follow up. Connect. Travel again.

6. Love Letter. This doesn’t have to be to someone you want to date, marry or fornicate with. If you’re running with kickass people at some point someone is going to pack up, move 412 miles away from their entire support system and could use a “you fucking kick ass” card just because. Because they do!

Instant gratification on Facebook or email is great but let’s add some anticipation out there, people. It is a great emotion to remember outside of beginnings of new relationships or summer vacations we are counting down towards.

Let’s not let the art of gratitude slowly disappear or just be something we overly see hashtagged by our “hippie, yoga, Namaste, granola friends.” (Not casting the first stone…. Just as guilty #gratitude, #joblove, #yogaeverydamnday) Do we need “hipsters” to bring it back? If you don’t think they will you’re in for a shock because they are leading the movement with cool prints that don’t resemble your mother’s thank you cards.

So get out there and purchase your monogrammed stationary, go to your local gallery and pick up some cards, collect addresses, and lets be honest you can probably toss the cards in your office mailroom.

No postage required. (wink, wink: buy the admin ladies Starbucks gift cards or better yet bring them one on your way in. You’re already stopping)

*Additional 2014 Challenge if you’re seeking a second one since we all know it’s a lie to yourself and social media about being Paleo for 60 days. Ask the honest question if you are being the type of person that deserves to receive one or all of the cards above from people in your life?!

….the next bourbon or Sweetwater IPA is on me in Atlanta.

 

Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Assistant Editor: Dana Gornall

Photo Credit: David Petras/Pixoto

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Kayla Patterson