Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Tasteful Tuesday -- Thank-you notes

I keep seeing folks talk about Gratitude like it’s part of a 12-Step program to better mental health. I don’t disagree. Nothing helps overcome the “I’ll-go-eat-some-worms” or “my-life-just-sucks” feelings like a quick run-down of all the things you have to be grateful for. Your family, your health, the blooms on the African Violet you were sure you’d killed last winter. If you look around, you’ll see there’s usually something in your life you can be grateful for. Something you’d want to give thanks for having.

Oprah used to talk about Gratitude Journals, where you write down five things each day that you’re thankful for. Can it help you find some inner peace or happiness? I don’t know, because I’ve never taken the time to do it. Mainly because I’m behind on my thank-you notes, and if I’m going to take the time to write down what I’m grateful for, I should damn well be thanking the person responsible in a written format.

Yes, today’s Tasteful Tuesday is about Thank-You notes.

Every etiquette maven, from Miss Manners to my own Miss Behavior, lectures about the importance of Thank-You notes. You can also put my mom in that group. ~grin~ The importance of Thank-You notes was instilled in me from a very young age, usually through threats of either not getting to play with said gift until I wrote the note or the possibility that I would not receive more presents from the giver unless proper notes were sent.

I will confess: these are the same threats I use with AC.

(I can guarantee there’s at least one person reading this who is thinking, “Um, PC owes me a Thank-You note. Pot, meet Kettle.” I know, and I’m sorry. I’ll get on that ASAP.)

Thank-You notes don’t have to be fancy or long, but they do have a few standards. I won’t lecture anyone here, but if you need a refresher in the writing of thank-yous, there’s a great article here.

My favorite tale to tell on my mom and her thank-you note crusade dates back to my high school graduation. Like most graduates, many of my gifts were money stuffed in cards. My mom’s youngest brother sent money as well. Now my uncle is only eleven years older, and as directed by my mom for years, I was trying to personalize each thank you note to the giver (but there are only so many ways to say “thanks for your generosity” when you’re seventeen years old.). But Fred’s note was easy to write, because I told him exactly what I did with the money: I bought tickets to the Aerosmith concert. (The Pump tour, for you Aerosmith fans.)

Mom was horrified, but I knew Uncle Fred would be very pleased to know I’d attended said concert. He would think it was an excellent use of the funds, and would possibly be disappointed he couldn’t go as well. I got great seats and the concert ROCKED! (My only regret is my date. He was a waste of a concert ticket.)

And I was right. My uncle was happy to learn I’d used his gift for such a great event. (I used money from another gift to buy a t-shirt while I was there, but I didn’t tell the sender of that gift I used the money for that. That person probably wanted me to buy college textbooks or something equally boring or proper, so I let them think I did. Everyone was happy.)

So, are you behind on your thank-you notes? Ever had to figure out the proper wording to thank someone for the tackiest gift you immediately gave to Goodwill? Have you received any “interesting” thank yous? Or, have you started wondering why the thank you note has become a rare thing (and can you still name the people who didn’t send you a thank-you note for that wedding present you sent five years ago)?


P.S. Congratulations to Kathy, Julie Miller's winner from last Thursday. Please forward me your snail mail address so we can get your copy of Takedown out to you. instigator@writingplayground.com


Playground Monitor said...

Oh Lordy, I think I thanked everyone for the Christmas presents. And just tonight I penned a note to some church friends thanking them for inviting me to their potluck lunch after church Sunday.

I tried to teach my boys and my sister even withheld gifts when she wasn't thanked. #1 son is so stubborn he said she could keep her gift. ::rolls eyes::

I think email thank yous are becoming more common now. I've done it. ::ducks and runs::

LA said...

Uh-oh...I still owe AC a thank you note for her lovely mug at Christmas. I did use that mug on one of my blog pictures (it looked so cool sitting on that mug rug!) Now that I've been reminded (your Mom hasn't said a word to me about it,) I'll try to get that done this week.

Smarty Pants said...

I'm not good with thank you notes, I admit it. The only time I really remember is when its an official event, like a graduation or if I got married. I sent them out after my big birthday shindig last year but I was definitely rusty.

The rest of the time, I just sorta figure things cancel out. We trade Christmas gifts, say thanks to each other, and I call it even. Most times, if someone thanks me upon receiving a gift (something that is fairly rare on its own) I'm good. I don't need a card telling me about how you love the 'blah blah' I bought off your registry. It was tablecloth and placemats. I *know* what you're going to do with it and of course you love it, you picked it out.

I always laugh when I get a card from AC. The dollar fifty spent on a card and postage for a $5 Littlest Petshop Toy seems a little much, but I appreciate the exercise you're putting her through.

Instigator said...

Guilt, just what I need to start my Tuesday off with. ;-D I'm terrible about thank you notes (hangs head in shame).


Angel said...

Do Thank You emails count, if it wasn't a big event? I try to remember to email people who invite us over, etc., and let them know we had a good time. Sigh... I know it isn't the same, but I'm a busy woman here.

I have to admit, I haven't taught my kids to write thank you notes, and I really should. Especially to those who send them presents, that they don't get to see and thank in person. One more "mommy guilt" item, that.

But I will say that I've gotten lots of practice writing, or actually typing, thank yous for contest judges and editors. All those rejections keep me in practice...


PM's Mother said...

I think E-mail thank-you should count if this is the customary way you communicate with the donor. What I want to know is why one expects a written thank you note if he/she has been thanked in person when the gift is received. Isn't this carrying things a bit too far? Of course I am lazy!

Sherry Werth said...

I do send thank you notes on occasion. Especially if I received a gift and did not speak to the giver in person. But I have been slacking on writing in my Thankful journal lately. It's on my nightstand and it's the last thing I do before going to bed. On a bad day the last entry would read: Thankful this day is over and I can go to bed!!! :-D

catslady said...

I too was taught very well about thank you's. And, yes, I can tell you who didn't send one or more. I have waited for many, many months for a thank you for wedding gifts and got them only when I had someone in the family inquire if they got the gift. If I see them in person, no problem. But when you don't even know if the gift arrived...I have another dozen incidents in my memory banks lol.