Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Thanks For Nothing ...

Clicking the title of this post will take you to a well-written story in USA Today about the disappearance of thank-you notes.

I write thank-you notes. I try to get them in the mail within 24 hours. When I did the breast cancer walk, I would receive e-mail alerts that someone had made a donation. I'd fire off an immediate e-mail to the donor, saying, "You'll receive a 'proper' thank-you note in the mail, but I'm trying to thank everyone in as close to real time as possible." Some days, I'd make several trips to the post office.

Many of my friends, upon receipt of my thank-you notes, say, "You didn't have to do that."

Well, yes, actually, I did.

"Blame my mother," I say, playfully.

But I should send my mother a thank-you note instead.

I'm grateful for the way she raised me, including her nudging when I was younger to send thank-you notes. Few people seem to write them anymore, but everyone likes to receive them.

Why have people stopped writing thank-you notes? Seriously, I'd like to know. If someone takes the time to buy you a gift and wrap it and present it, is it too much to expect that you'll find a minute or two to jot down a few heartfelt, personal sentences and pop them in the mail?

Today, I met up with a former teacher and his wife at the Art Institute. English Teacher Dave gives his students extra credit if they meet him at the Art Institute during Christmas break. A lot of kids showed up. Some brought friends and family. It was a big group. So when we had to pass through a door, I held it open for everyone. A few kids said "thank you," but most didn't. Is "thank you" on the brink of extinction, as well?

The other day, at G's, I noticed a bottle of water on the nightstand on my side of the bed.

"Did you put that out for me?" I asked.



"Oh, come on, that's little!" he said.

"Yes, but the little things add up."

And they do. And that's another thing I've gotten from my mother: I thank people for everything. My mom thanks my father if he empties the dishwasher. Yes, he should empty the dishwasher. He should pitch in and help. But everyone likes to feel appreciated, and it's a simple thing to say "thank you." So she does.

And so should we all.


Blogger Aarwenn said...

I have an important question about this topic: if you thank someone in person for a gift--as indeed all of my family does, because we live close--is it necessary to write a thank you note? It seems unnecessarily formal, as if the act of getting out stationery and pens CREATES a distance between what were formerly close family members. Especially if it's not done in my family. I believe I actually read something about this in Emily Post once--that thanking the giver in person negates the necessity of a thank you note. And yet, at a party, you generally thank the hostess for throwing it as you're leaving, and then I write a thank you note the next day for the party. So the in person/no thank you note needed rule wouldn't seem to apply there. AAH! What do you think?

2:09 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Well, I'm no etiquette expert, but here are my thoughts: You don't have to write thank-you notes to immediate family, especially if you thank them in person. But, for example, the other day Dave gave me an unexpected Christmas present. I thanked him when I opened it, but it was so thoughtful, that I followed it up with a thank-you note. And I received a gift in the mail from a friend with whom I never exchange gifts, and who lives out of town, so a thank-you note to him was a given. And I, too, write thank-you notes to hostesses of parties, even though I took a hostess gift of some sort and thanked her at the end of the party. It's just a nice bit of the way things used to be, you know? I'm hard-pressed to come up with instances when thank-you notes are inappropriate. One last thought: I didn't put this in the main post, but I really hate it when I get cutesy or really generic thank yous. Skip the goofy poems and come up with two sentences that say something about my gift, specifically. "Dear Beth, we love the antique bowl. It looks lovely in our dining-room hutch." See? Was that so hard?

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Beth,
I'm so thankful the crack pots in the bastion of socialist laziness named Santa Monica have finally gotten a clue.

Lazy ass bums have been living off the dole in sunny california and now the people footing the bill are sick and tired and want them out of sight, out of mind. So thank you for being a socialist because it lets me know just where your kind really stand.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Andi said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you, Beth. My hubby and I constantly thank each other for things large and small. And, the thank-you note has gone out the window these days. When I receive a TU note, I consider it a breath of fresh air. I always send a note, whether the occasion formally warrants it or not (except for family).

11:40 AM  

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