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We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives. — John F. Kennedy


How many of you have had such great intentions after leaving dinner at a commander’s home, or after a friend sent you flowers when you were ill, to send that person a thank-you note? I am fairly confident we have all been there! Protocol books, like The Army Spouse Handbook (pages 115-120), all suggest to do so in a timely fashion, within a few days. I know for me, sometimes it was weeks later, and I began to really stress about my lack of getting it into the mailbox! 

It really is so simple to have note cards handy, taking five minutes to write a heartfelt, thank-you note or to just tell a friend you are thinking of them. Over the years, writing notes became a new habit. I would write notes the morning after an event or within a few days after someone did something nice for me or my family. Your notes will sound much more sincere while it is fresh in your mind, instead of waiting until weeks later!

Notes do not have to be novels. Just a few meaningful thoughts or gratitude, complimentary comments with a nice Warm Regards, Fondly, Love or Hugs, depending on the relationship you have with the person.


“Dear Barb and John, We appreciate the time and expense you took to fly in for our wedding! Your gift of the mixer was greatly appreciated, and we will be reminded of our friendship when using it! Much love, Jack and Jill” 

So simple, and this couple will feel appreciated, which is all someone needs most of the time. Notice how the sender signed the note. Remember, that whoever writes the correspondence for two people, should sign their name last. 

I know many of you reading this will prefer to use electronic devices of communication and social media sites to send a thank you, condolence, post the photo of a gift received, or just a nice “thinking of you,” rather than a handwritten message. There are definitely ways to do this with texting and email, but if you are like me, getting handwritten letters and cards in the mail is so special. And you, too, may be pleasantly surprised at how wonderful you feel after sending one!

During this time of COVID-19, I have received the nicest notes in the mail, even from neighbors just thanking me for baked goods I dropped off. Recently, I received a card from a friend out-of-state just sharing how much she missed seeing us on visits, as well as the normal day-to-day events of life. Even though we communicate on social media and texts, this meant so much for her to have taken the time to write!

That being said, at the very least I would encourage you to reach out as you prefer, remembering that the important thing is to truly express your gratitude or to just communicate that you are thinking of them in some way.

Traditions: The Backstory

It was interesting to discover that Chinese and Egyptian cultures were the first to start writing what we now know as thank-you notes. They wrote wishes for good luck and simple friendship notes, exchanging them with each other using papyrus paper. In later times, around the 1400s, social notes were exchanged by the Europeans, and they would hand deliver them to their friends and family. These looked much like our greeting cards of today. Well after the Europeans were sending thank-you notes, much later around 1856, Pouis Prang, a German immigrant, began bringing thank-you notes and greeting cards to America.

To express gratitude properly requires a little effort. Your thank-you note should recapture the smile, handshake or hug you would give the giver in person, and offer it in a form that can be read and reread. — Margaret Shepherd, author, The Art of the Handwritten Note


  • Protocol and Etiquette Team

    Ann Crossley and Ginger Perkins are the authors of "The Army Spouse Handbook," the go-to guide for the 21st century Army spouse. The 440-page book describes situations that you may encounter as an Army spouse, irrespective of your spouse’s rank or assignment. The book is not meant to be read from cover-to-cover, but kept handy and used as a reference book when you need to know what to expect in social situations. Michelle Hodge, a seasoned spouse, has taught protocol and customs classes and continues to be an advocate for soldiers and family members. Lynda Smith, the newest member of the Traditions and Protocol team, enjoys finding new ways to bring old Army traditions to life with fun and humorous experiences, a little old-school vibe, and a modern twist.


  1. Kathleen Palmer

    Excellent advice! I remember having a bunch of single soldiers over for a meal and a football game. I received a thank you note in the mail from one of the soldiers who came. It was so nice that he took the time to thank me for a “chili” pot meal and some hospitality. never underestimate the power of a simple thank you! 🙂

    • Michelle

      Thank you for the comment and sharing your experience! It truly is such a nice feeling when someone takes the time to send a simple thank-you note!

  2. Patty Barron

    I love the idea of having thank you cards/ stationary handy. I might even go as far as placing stamps in envelopes so they would be ready to mail!


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