Topic: Thank You Notes

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

I love receiving a handwritten thank you note.  It warms my heart to think that someone would take the time to sit down and write a personal sentiment, in a card, and put it in the mail…to me.

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to feel any kind of yearning to do the same for others.  I have always failed miserably at writing Thank You Notes and, I believe, I have also failed at teaching my children to write them as well.

Clearly, I was a lousy parent.

Writing a Thank You Note is a classy thing to do.  It’s thoughtful and sweet.  It’s what my mother taught me was “the right thing to do.”    And, according to my mother, anyone who wasn’t raised in a barn knows that there are some basic situations when sending a handwritten Thank You Note is REQUIRED.

They are (for your reference) as follows:

1) Any gifts received from a grandparent.

(otherwise the parent will hear about it and that’s never good for the kid)

2) Any gifts received from relatives sent through the mail for birthdays or holidays.

(otherwise the parent will hear about it and that’s never good for the kid)

3) Any gifts received for Bar Mitzvahs (or other such cultural “coming of age” celebrations), Weddings and/or Showers and new baby gifts.

(otherwise the parent will hear about it and that’s never good for the kid)

Fortunately, (I thought) my kids always lived near their grandparents and were able to give them a huge hug and thank them directly for any gift they received.  So I didn’t “make” them write thank you notes to their grandparents (bad parent!).

And, my brother’s the only one who ever sent them gifts on holidays…so he probably thought they were raised in a barn, because I’m sure he never received a Thank You Note from either of them…EVER!

And alas, my kids never had those coming of age celebrations (at least none thus far, other than graduations from high school & college and I think, maybe, I hope, they wrote some Thank You Notes!?!) so they haven’t really been exposed to the absolute joy of writing hundreds of thank you notes to tons of people who gave them gifts (poor babies).

But gifts aren’t the only reason to write a Thank You Note (I’ve been told).

There are those really thoughtful people out there who exceed all Thank You Note expectations and write them as a lovely follow up to:

1) A job interview.

2) A lunch with a friend.

3) A dinner out with friends.

4) A nice conversation on the phone.

I hate those people.  They give the rest of us a bad name.  They make us look lazy.  They make us look like we were raised in a barn.

So for the record…in case you haven’t figured it out yet…I HATE writing Thank You Notes!

I hate trying to find a card cute enough to write on.  So I buy those stupid little pre-printed thank you cards in packages of 10 at the supermarket with blank innards that are anything but cute.

I hate trying to find the matching envelope that has been buried somewhere in the back of my desk drawer because invariably the cards have gotten separated from the envelopes in the package.

I hate my handwriting (or more accurately, my printing), so I’m actually embarrassed to have someone see how immature and ugly my penmanship is.  I know that anyone who sees it must think to themselves, “How has that woman gotten through life with that horrible handwriting!?!”

In fact, I hate the idea of writing Thank You Notes so much that I’ve totally talked myself into believing that a well crafted, hugely sentimental and well thought-out email more than qualifies as a perfectly valid form of saying “thank you” in lieu of the more formal handwritten Thank You Note.

Case in point (I swear!), as I was in the middle of writing this blog post, the doorbell rang and the postman dropped off a totally unexpected package from my boyfriends’ sister.  She sent me a present for no reason at all (literally…that’s what it said on the card).  OMG…how thoughtful was that!?!  Totally Thank You Note worthy.

And yet, I instantly thought to write an email to her expressing my joy at receiving and opening that unexpected package.  Not for an instant did I think to sit down and write her a note….not even when I’ve got “Thank You Notes” solidly on the brain!

Lazy?  Raised in a Barn?  How about…just damn efficient!

The polite part of me thinks that thank you notes are a great way to show your gratitude and should be written and sent by all.

The other part of me thinks they’re a silly waste of stationary.

As the sender of thank you notes, I feel kind of stupid.  I feel silly sending something that you’re just going to have sitting on your counter or stuck to your refrigerator until spring cleaning rolls around the following year. I have a hard time seeing the value in writing “Thank you Grandma for the 20 bucks for my birthday.  It was very thoughtful.  It was nice.  I bought lunch with it.  Love you!  Xoxoxo!”

When I sent out my thank you notes for graduation, I sort of felt like a fraud.  I was absolutely grateful, but my thank you cards didn’t really express that.

Because really?

How much does an obligatory thank you card really say?

And there’s the key word: obligatory.  The minute I’m expected to send one, I feel like all of the love and kindness gets sucked right out of it.

And the same goes for receiving one: the minute I get one because “it’s the right thing to do” and not because the person really wanted to thank me, it looses some of its charm.

(Side note: am I the only one who feels like I have to write a thank you note for the thank you notes I receive?)

The best thank you notes I’ve gotten have been thanking me for something I didn’t realize I had given.  My best friend once sent me a thank you note after her birthday.  First she said thanks for the book I’d gotten her (which was the right thing to do because it was Twilight and it’s awesome), but then she said how much she appreciated our friendship.  How much my being in her life meant to her.  THAT’S a thank you note that I want.  That’s the kind of thank you note that I’m happy to have on my fridge.  But I wouldn’t even call that a “thank you note”.  It was a letter that expressed her feelings, which meant so much to me.

I just feel there’s a better way, like sincerely thanking the person when they give you the gift.

Or calling and saying how much you love what they did for you.

Or sky writing.

Before you write a thank you note I think that you should ask yourself, “Why am I writing this?”  Then think if there’s a better way to show your gratitude.

And maybe that card is the best way (because sometimes it is), but maybe it’s not…

AND NOW, I can’t write about this without a rant of sorts:

I hate hate HATE when you go to a wedding or baby shower  (basically any gathering of women where a registry is involved) and they make you fill out an envelope so that the woman of honor can easily send you a thank you note.


It takes absolutely any thought and care out of it and I’d rather not have any part in it.  You have my address already since YOU SENT ME AN INVITE.  Do you know how disappointing it is to get a card in the mail with your own handwriting on it?  First, it freaks me out, like I’m getting a message from Past Ally for Future Ally (“Don’t drink the iced tea, Ally, it’s poison.”).  After I realize what it actually is I’m disappointed because I knew the damn thing was coming.

Just thank me for the thing you already knew you were getting (don’t get me started on registries) at the party, and we’ll call it even.

(End rant.)