Suzanne McGonagle: A thank you note is a gift in itself
SAYING thank you and offering gratitude is something we hear less of nowadays. And to receive a note of thanks has become even rarer.
But this week I received a beautiful personalised card in the post.
The colourful card adorned with flowers included a few paragraphs of appreciation from a person I had met just days earlier and who wanted to thank me for meeting her and offering advice.
It may have just been a simple card, but to me, it reminded me how unique it is to receive a thank you card.
Knowing there are people out there who still take time out of their busy schedule to put pen to paper and say thanks is wonderful.
These days, handwritten gestures of any sort seem to be rare novelties. It's a sign of the times that we no longer write and say thank you any more.
In these days of instant communication, from email to text messages and social media, it's easy to overlook the act of writing a short letter.
Recent research has suggested that saying thank you by letter or card is a dying art.
Surveys have pointed to the fact that very few people actually send a physical note any more, claiming it is easier to send a message electronically. Many have even admitted they don't bother to send anything at all.
In our fast-paced and digital-driven lives there's always an excuse - no time to buy, to write or post a card or letter.
But a handwritten note says so much more.
When we were younger, we were made to write and post thank you letters after receiving birthday and Christmas presents.
Yes, it felt like torture at the time, writing the notes under extreme parental pressure, often accompanied by a little drawing, but it was the polite thing to do and that's what we grew up knowing.
From the moment my own children were able to talk, we taught them to say thank you. When they began to be able to write, we encouraged them to write notes of thanks for gifts they had received, following on in the tradition that I had been brought up with.
But as the years have gone on, the digital note of thanks appears to have slipped in more and more. We have become too busy to take time to say thanks, forgetting to acknowledge our appreciation for something or someone.
It's a small thing, a thank you note, but it carries a big message of gratitude and of feeling valued.
Sometimes they are not easily written, but it shows that the person has sat down and gone out of their way to write those simple few lines. They may be deemed old-fashioned, but they are heartfelt and personal, especially when they are written by hand.
The handwritten thank you note speaks volumes and sends the message out that you care enough to invest yourself personally in acknowledging another person.
Getting that little card through snail mail says to the recipient, 'I am grateful for what you have done and here is the handwritten proof'.
A handwritten note practically commands attention, and most people will hold onto them as a keepsake. A thoughtful acknowledgement always makes me feel appreciated and valued for my actions. It may just be a small note or card but I know that there's a meaningful piece of kindness packed into as well.
Handwritten notes still have a personality and warmth that computer screens don't have. And despite our technology-driven lifestyles, people still enjoy opening them.
More than anything, a thank you note is a gift in itself, so send a little joy someone's way.
Are you ready to slip into something a shade darker? Our friends at Movie House Cinemas certainly are as they gear up for the opening of Fifty Shades Darker on February 10.
The movie, based on a novel of the same name by British author EL James, is the second film in the Fifty Shades series starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.
Tickets have been on sale at Movie House Cinemas since January 1 at Dublin Road, Cityside/Yorkgate, Glengormley, Maghera and Coleraine and Movie House have put on loads of extra seats to make sure you get to see it. Find out more at www.moviehouse.co.uk
But how do you fancy winning tickets to be among the first to see this movie?
I have a pair of tickets for the opening night on February 10 at Movie House, Dublin Road at 6.30pm. To be in with a chance to win, simply email your name, address and telephone number - along with the answer to the question below - to email@example.com
Closing date for entries is Tuesday January 31 at noon.
(Q) What is the name of the character that Jamie Dornan plays in Fifty Shades Darker?
Normal Irish News Rules Apply
Homelessness - Phoenix Natural Gas recently asked local children to make a wish during visits to The MAC, Belfast - with the pledge to make one come true. After reviewing more than 1,000 entries it became clear that the issue of homelessness was an issue close to the hearts of many local children. Under the recommendation of the Welcome Organisation, a donation of £1,500 will help deliver 100 hours of cookery lessons for essential lifestyle skills to those visiting the centre.
Recipe book - Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council is aiming to publish a book of locally inspired recipes. With the help of residents, the council is asking them to submit their cherished recipes. All recipes must be submitted before January 31 and include a short historical background to the recipe. Visit www.visitlisburncastlereagh.com/legacy-recipe-book for further information.
No dancing - Presenter Mel Giedroyc said she turned down an offer to do Strictly Come Dancing because being on the show herself would have ruined it for her. The former Great British Bake Off co-host - a huge fan of the BBC show - also suggested that now is not the right time for her to try her luck on the dance floor.
Clash - Former politician Ann Widdecombe has clashed with Good Morning Britain host Susanna Reid after branding the women's marches 'pathetic'. She said men had become 'wimps' because they were putting up with 'all this rubbish'.
The winners of last week's Heat Holders competition are Angela Curran from Tempo, Anne Harvey from Glenariff and Brigid Donnelly from Newry.
Easy Peasy Recipe
This week's Easy Peasy Recipe is chorizo-stuffed peppers
You will need:
75g giant wholegrain couscous
60g pack diced chorizo
50g pine nuts
2 tbsp tomato pesto
2 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
25g pack basil, shredded
4 red peppers
Preheat the oven to 200ºC, gas mark 6.
Cook the couscous in boiling water for 6-8 minutes until tender, drain.
Fry the chorizo and pine nuts in a small frying pan for 2-3 minutes, stir in the couscous, pesto, Parmigiano Reggiano and half the basil.
Halve the peppers, keeping the stalk intact, de-seed and place on a small baking tray.
Fill with the couscous mixture and bake for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with the remaining basil and serve with salad.
Do you have an Easy Peasy recipe you would like to share?
Are you the queen of quiches, magnificent at muffins or can you turn out some nice scones?
If so, then we want to hear from you.
You can send your name, address, contact number and recipe (plus photo if possible) to: Easy Peasy Recipes,
113-117 Donegall Street,