Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I am a big believer in etiquette. I try to follow the mores of our social code so that others around me feel comfortable and appreciated. I also want others to think well of me and of my parents for teaching me the ins and outs of etiquette. One of the ways this comes up is with thank you notes. I have to say I just finished mine from Christmas. I'm a little embarrassed by this as I should have been quicker to express my gratitude for those who gave us gifts this year and who hosted us for Christmas parties and as overnight guests.
But I think I'm not alone in having a tough time manning up and writing them. I have a feeling that you might face the same anxiety at having to express yourself in a handwritten note that I do and might respond with similar procrastination. My husband balks at the idea of having to write thank you notes even though his parents taught him well too. A few reasons for this are that we have just come out of our wedding season which included four showers, a bachelorette party, a rehearsal dinner and large wedding. I have written hundreds of thank you notes over the last year, and Brian helped, he probably wrote about 50. Even though we genuinely feel very blessed and grateful for the generosity our friends and family poured out to us, this can be wearying and I don't think either of us have quite recovered from it. Second, I didn't receive any gifts by mail this year. All the gifts I gave and received were opened right in front of the other person and that is how they can know that I am thankful for it. My eyes lit up, I gasped, I gushed, hugged, complimented and thanked immediately. That's how I really express my gratitude. A few weeks later, when I'm bored and home alone I remember with love and thanksgiving all that I received this year, but it isn't the same as in the moment. Third, thank you notes are supposed to be a practice of people of all ages, but around me it seems that it's only required of children. The adults in my life have very rarely thanked me for what I have given them and I don't really expect them to, but it is definitely expected that I as well as my cousins write thank you notes to our elders. There is definitely judgement when some one fails to receive a thank you note. I know this not because I've ever not sent one, but because a few that I have sent around the wedding weren't received. The USPS isn't nearly as perfect as they'd have you believe. The people who had given to us and not gotten a note in return brought it up with my parents, some in a gentle way and others more accusatory, but you know exactly what they're thinking when they say "oh did Erin receive the gift we sent? We never heard from her." I've had to call these people and insist that yes I did receive their gift, loved it, said as much, and just hate that they didn't know it all this time. One of these calls was the day before yesterday for my hairdresser from back home.
I really hope that I don't sound like a brat having said all this. I just know that some of my friends share the same feelings and that you might as well. But for a moment I will express how good it feels to receive a thank you note. I have gotten two recently, from girls my age and it meant quite a lot to me to know that they thought enough of me to respond in writing. I know that this is why we have the custom of thanking each other with a handwritten note rather than just the words, and I wouldn't wish to be excused from the task of thanking others. In the end it does me good to be encouraged to sit down and express my gratitude properly. So often I forget my many blessings and the people in my life who have given of themselves generously. So as a gentle reminder, if you haven't written your thank you notes yet, do so. It might make you feel good. And if you don't receive one, give that person the benefit of the doubt. It might just be lost in the mail!