Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Double Thank-you

I found a good book in the second hand shop that was published in 1959. It's by a man called David Dunn about his hobby of "giving himself away", so I suppose you could say he was one of the pioneers of the Random Acts of Kindness movement. One of his chapters is actually not about giving but receiving. In fact, receiving graciously from others may be one of the finest forms of giving that many haven't properly mastered. I've noticed in my own life that some people are more "fun" to give to than others. There was a quote by Leigh Hunt who said, "To receive a present handsomely and in the right spirit, even when you have none to return, is to give one in return."

David Dunn mentioned his great idea of the "double thank-you" or "second thanks." The first thanks occurs when a person receives a gift and they thank the giver as an automatic etiquette response. Well, everyone does that. Aren't we all instructed to "Say Thank-you" from the time we're old enough to string two words together? This doesn't necessarily mean that the recipient even liked the present. It takes more of a skillful sort of receiver to give the Second Thanks, which is simply mentioning to the person down the track, how handy, beautiful or interesting you are still finding his gift.

David Dunn had this story to say. "Recently I had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of a second thanks. Four years ago I gave one of my nephews a metallurgical handbook as a birthday present, for which he thanked me appropriately at the time. Recently I received a letter from him saying that he'd changed his job, and that in his new work he had occasion to refer almost daily to the handbook I'd given him. He wanted me to know how useful my gift was proving. This note made so favourable an impression on me that I now have my eye peeled for other books to send this appreciative young man."

It makes such a lot of sense but people so often don't do it! Have you ever found yourself thinking, "I wonder if So-&-So liked the whatchamacallit I gave him?" This whole concept made an impression on me and I decided to make an effort to give the second thanks as often as I can. It's easy to give the first thanks but takes a bit of polish and finesse to give the second thanks.


  1. Actually I do it as often as I can. there is no better feeling, then to receive a second thanks. I don't care if it is for a box of bendable straws from the $1 store. If it made that person happy, then hearing how much junior liked them is always nice to her, for you know that someone...somewhere is happy.

  2. This is really a cool concept and one that I doubt a lot of people think about, at least, not consciously. I can recall a few times that I was able to tell someone how much I've used something they gave me long before. But I didn't realize it was a "second thank you". Interesting! I'll have to look for other things I can thank people for again!

    What bothers me is when I send something and never know if it was received (things do get lost in transit). Just this summer, I sent a baby gift and a wedding gift - and bless their hearts, they sent a written thank you immediately. How nice that was!

    Have a terrific week!

  3. By the way, Paula ... Did Logan get Chad's letter? I can't remember if you mentioned it or not (it's been awhile, I think). Let me know, please. Thanks!


  4. I try to do this, but I should probably do it more often. I know when I'm thanked more than once, it makes me feel great.

    I've also found that it takes some skill to be a good receiver. I know I've inherited my father's sense of embarrassment at having people make a fuss over me. It's taken me many years to teach myself to appreciate a present I received in the same spirit of love it was given.

    Peace and Laughter!