My Material Life

The Art of Saying Thank You

I’ve been meaning to tell you about this pitcher.  It’s wonderful, isn’t it?  It belongs to our neighbors, Sharon and Rolf.  That color, that shape – so feminine in a Scandinavian mid-century modern kind of way.  Every year when Sharon and Rolf’s lavender is in bloom they send some over in this pitcher for Samantha and eventually we return the pitcher to them.  It’s awfully thoughtful of them and has become such a tradition that when the pitcher never arrived last summer I felt the loss of it.  Turns out that their bushes didn’t bloom last year, so they gave Samantha some lavender bath gel along with her Halloween candy instead.

It occurred to me just this morning (after a conversation with my friend Jill about the dying practice of thank you note writing) that maybe, just maybe this lavender in a yellow pitcher tradition has everything to do with the fact that Sharon and Rolf know how much we appreciate it.  Because you better believe that every year I have Samantha write a thank you note like the one that I transcribed for her above when she was a pre-schooler.  I’m so glad that my mother always made me write thank you notes.  It felt like such a chore, but she won me over eventually.  Haven’t you ever noticed that when someone takes the time to express their sincere appreciation to you in writing that you want to continue to give to them?  I’m not only talking about gifts here.  Think about people at work you’ve helped or a young person you did something nice for or something like that.  Who wouldn’t want to put that simple, but powerful principle of human nature to work for themselves or for their children?

mml bundt

This drawing of a bundt cake that I received in a thank you note from Jill’s daughter Annie a couple of weeks ago charmed my socks off.  I made mini chocolate chip bundt cakes to celebrate Annie’s 11th birthday.  Jill says getting Annie to write is like pulling teeth, but Annie loves to draw so Jill suggests she start with a drawing and focus on that.  Then the writing – just a few lines are all that are necessary – comes much more easily.

These notes are from my neighbor, Emily.  On a previous trip, we brought some Disneyland souvenirs back for her little ones and these are what she sent us in return.  Emily used flat pieces of cardstock and supplemented her baby’s hand print and her son’s scribbles with writing.  So simple, but these cards did the job in such style.

One of my favorite tricks is to make photo cards using my printer.  They’re so fun to make, and I find that the memory generated by the photo puts me in the proper spirit for the task at hand.  The champagne fountain card went out after an anniversary party.  As an aside I should tell you to never rent a champagne fountain, but not because it’s not classy.  I mean I’m sure it’s horrible for the wine, but the real problem is that people put all kinds of things in these fountains and it makes your bubbly taste very funky.  I’m also not sure how sanitary they are.  But they do lend a festive air to the proceedings as long as you don’t drink from them.  Still, I’ll never not love the idea of the champagne fountain.  And people did like the cards.

Little kids can get away with very few words in their notes.  But by the time you’ve reached your first decade you’ll want to say more than, Thanks for the ____; it’s great – Love, ____.  Although even this is preferable to saying nothing.  Particularly if someone sent something to you; at least they’ll know you received their gift.  You want to say thank you of course, but also something about what you’ll be able to do with what you’ve been given, whether a gift or something intangible.  You don’t have to write a lot, but it’s important to let your note recipient know what their gift means to you.

mml dansk

As for the pitcher it’s vintage Dansk Kobenstyle.


Source: Etsy via Pinterest

Some pieces of Kobenstyle are in production today, though not the pitcher.  I was very excited to see that Crate and Barrel did have some yellow pieces last spring; they seem to be gone now though.  Perhaps they will bring them back?  Yellow is my favorite color in the kitchen.

Thanks for listening!


  1. Jo Ann

    Thank You Colleen for the thoughts and your friendship. I love getting and sending notes & this was a great reminder of how much they can mean to someone. I often use the photo cards that Bob produces with his beautiful flower photographs. Hope you and Samantha are having a great summer. Love, Jo Ann

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