Need help with that thankless job of writing thank you notes?
Right after Christmas and Hanukkah, and during Kwanzaa, learn how to write polite thank you notes, thanks to National Archives’ “Making Their Mark” Family Day on Dec. 30.
This free event coincides with the final days of its “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” exhibit that closes on Jan. 5.
A representative from “Making Their Mark” sponsor Fahrney’s Pens will help with the “most vexing of holiday challenges– how to write a ‘polite’ thank you note,” notes the National Archives.
They’ll have several thank you note ideas and a ‘fill in the blanks’ handout for kids to learn, practice, and enhance their skills. After filling in the handout, they can drop it into a “mailbox”, and be entered to win a kid’s fountain pen, a *cursive (a.k.a. script or longhand) writing book; a Write Notepad; and a box of thank you cards.
All contest entrants will receive a letterpress thank you card and envelope to take home and use for a real thank you note, thanks to Write Notepads & Co. of Baltimore.
Additional help, and inspiration, will come from copies of great thank-you notes on display from the National Archives holdings.
These may include:
- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s thank you message to Allied troops a week after the D-Day invasion of Europe, 70 years ago. “…You are a truly great Allied Team… exceeded my brightest hopes.”
- A note pasted on the window of a drugstore in Los Angeles’ “Little Tokyo” section just after the U.S. entered World War Two and interned Japanese and Japanese Americans — including 70,000 American citizens. “Many thanks for your Patronage. Hope to Serve you in Near future . God be with you till we meet again. Mr. and Mrs. K. Iseri”.
It’s doubtful that the following unusual thanks will be included, but they’re in “Making Their Mark”:
- A thank you gift of a team jersey, signed by Iraq’s national football (soccer) team after winning the Asian Cup, and presented to President Obama in 2009.
- Saddam Hussein’s elegant note, “Thank you for your kind greetings”, sent to President George H.W. Bush soon after his inauguration in 1989. About a year later, President G.H.W. Bush launched the Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, to retaliate against Iraqi dictator Hussein for invading Kuwait.
“Making Their Mark” exhibit has signatures that began lives, changed lives, or ended lives. The unique exhibit also features “signature styles”, like a Michelle Obama dress; a Jacqueline Kennedy pillbox hat — even Michael Jackson’s signed patent application for anti-gravity shoes.
Although not in the exhibit, here are a couple of relevant holdings of the National Archives:
- F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover’s thank you notes to his deputy and suspected lover, Clyde A. Tolson for frequent gifts especially of flowers, and to a bureau official for an apt gift — a trash compressor.
- A timely example of excellent *cursive is young Fidel Castro’s 1940 handwritten letter to President Franklin Roosevelt, congratulating him on a new term and requesting, “If you like, give me a ten dollars bill green american in the letter…” Fidel Castro told a reporter in 1975 that he received a note from the White House thanking him for his letter, but it did not include the 10-dollar bill,” the Archives says.
Here are relevant thank you note tips from the doyennes of etiquette, Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post:
- “No one expects more than a few words, but they should sound sincere and really appreciative,” according to “Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette: A Guide to Gracious Living”.
- Emily Post Etipedia® advises, “people always appreciate getting ‘thanks’ in writing. Handwritten notes are warmer and more special than other forms of thank yous.” (I.e., no e-thanks, thank you very much.)
Dear National Archives, Thank you for everything!
For more info: Thank you note writing Family Day and contest, Dec. 30, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M., National Archives, www.archives.gov or www.nara.gov, The Boeing Learning Center, upper floor of the National Archives Museum,700 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. Free. Educational programming related to “Making Their Mark” is sponsored in part by Fahrney’s Pens, Cross, and Parker Pen Company–Newell Rubbermaid. “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” exhibit through Jan. 5. Free.