How do you celebrate a round birthday? Do you try to do something out of the ordinary? That’s what I had on my mind when I sent 30 thank-you cards on my 30th birthday.
For a long time, I was trying to figure out how to commemorate my 30th birthday. I considered a quiz on ‘30 things nobody knows about me’, a slide show with photos from the last 30 years and a game with posters presenting the stages of my life. As you have probably noticed, all of these ideas focused on ME. While it would be perfectly fine in the case of a hen night (organised by a maid of honour), on my 30th birthday I decided to fight against the egocentric part of my nature and celebrate it differently.
30 thank-you cards
On my 30th birthday, I decided to send Thank-you cards to 30 people who have had the greatest impact on my life: they inspired me, supported me when I needed it most, showed me values worth holding, shaped my thoughts or directed my actions. This way I wanted to express my gratitude and make these people aware of how important their actions are.
Addresses and addressees
Collecting all addresses was a sort of a challenge. Most of the addressees still play an important part in my life. However, I have lost touch with five of them, and never had any contact with two. Finding the addresses of public figures on the Internet was an easy task. The other five people were a greater challenge, especially that I wanted the cards to be a surprise. Unfortunately, I got down to collecting their addresses too late, and in the end, had to ask them about their place of living directly. As it turned out, it resulted in two very pleasant evenings chatted through on Facebook with school friends. Another friend of mine will receive a card at her parents’ address because that’s where she lived when we exchanged long hand-written letters ages ago.
I also wanted to write to two of my teachers. I managed to find the son of one of them on Facebook and get the address from him. The other teacher will receive the card at the school address. Although she no longer teaches there, I hope that one of her colleagues will pass the card to her.
Inside the Thank-you cards
On the left-hand side of the cards, I pasted a short printed text, which explained why they were sent. On the right-hand side, I wrote individual words of gratitude, different for each person.
Naturally, it would have been much faster and cheaper to send electronic thank-you cards, but they wouldn’t be as valuable. Think for yourselves. Have you ever placed a paper card on a shelf or hung it over the mantelpiece? How about an e-mail?
What did I learn from my Thank-you cards?
Making this gift for others gave me a lot of satisfaction, brought back memories and motivated me to think about what was and is most important in my life and whom I owe it. First of all, I appreciated people who have given me confidence and those who have set me an example of courageous, living faith; those who have supported my interests and were close to me when I was taking my first steps in new places; as well as those who have accepted me the way I am and taught me the same with regard to others, showing me that different doesn’t mean worse.
If you are preparing for the celebration of a round birthday, I encourage you not only to focus on reviewing your success and failures (actually, I don’t recommend the latter at all), but also to think about all the people who have made them possible.
Who knows, maybe you are also such a person, but nobody has ever told you about it yet? If it is my life that you have positively affected, go and check your post box!
– Start collecting addresses way in advance. Otherwise, the person on whose information you are counting might have just gone on holiday and switched off her smartphone for good.
– Believe me that 30 thank-you cards is a lot. Therefore, each minute action, such as cutting the printed text, pasting it, writing the date, sealing the envelope, addressing it or pasting the stamp – multiplied by 30 – takes much more time than one could expect.
– Consider printing your return address on stickers. I will definitely do it if I decide to do a similar thing again in the future.
– Store individual thank-you texts in one place before you write them down on the cards. This way, you will still have them with you after sending the cards, and you will be able to go back to them when the addressees phone you to say thank you and when you want to remind yourselves to how many people you can be grateful.