Thank-you notes were the bane of my existence.
I couldn’t stand the horrible things. Just straight-up couldn’t stand them.
Even worse, to the young dude I used to be, my birthday is in late November, just about a month before Christmas. Which meant I had to write all those thank-you notes at the same time.
Mooo-oooo-oommmm! My hand hurts! Do I have to write all these? What’s the difference? No one cares? Mom! Are you listening to me?
Writing thank-you notes just went downhill from there.
The thing is, even though she’s dead, I have the feeling she’s still smiling over what I’m about to write.
The same answers she gave me when I was a young complainer who didn’t know how good I had it. . . Yeah, those are the same things I tell my three young dudes, young complainers all, who all don’t know how good they have it.
Sarcasmo, Zippy the College Boy and Hyper Lad . . . None of them count good penmanship among their many skills. In this way, they really take after their dad. I’ve never been able to craft a written letter with a neat hand that will allow others to read it without struggling.
(The fact that I became a reporter and didn’t get sued for writing down the wrong thing, or writing down the right thing, but not being able to read it and printing the wrong thing, is a testament to my young eyes and resilient brain that could actually remember stuff.)
So writing anything is not their favorite activity. Not even in their favorite top 100. Or top 1000. Or, well, you get the idea.
Still, I make it as easy for them as possible. I take notes during present times so we know who gave what. I’ll give each young dude a list (as well as a list for their mom), with the name and address for each person written next to it. Some years, I’ll even help write the address on the front of the envelope.
And still they complain. Zippy the College Boy, especially, keeps harping on about how no one cares about thank-you notes and how he’d never want to get one from anyone he sent a gift to. And, if he does have to write one, why can’t he type it out and e-mail it to the person?
That last one is a toughie. Personally, I’m all in favor of writing electronic thank-you notes. It saves paper. It saves energy. It gets there quicker. It’s better than sending a paper note at all levels.
The problem being that most people who are sending the young dudes gifts are older than they are. Which means they were raised in an era when a handwritten note was essential if you wanted to express a sincere emotion to someone. An e-mail is seen as the slacker’s way of doing things, as not requiring enough effort to show that you really did mean a sincere thank you.
It’s silly, but that’s the way it is. Which means we have to live with it and work within it.
Which means I get to hear the complaints again and again.
Eventually, I fell back on my mom’s best counter to my note whining.
“If you really don’t want to write a thank-you note. . . That’s fine.”
I’d celebrate, but she wasn’t done.
“I’ll just tell everyone that doesn’t get a thank-you note that you’ve decided not to receive presents any more. Receiving a gift from someone means you’ve entered into a contract. You’re end of the contract is that you will write a thank-you note. No note? No present.”
It’s mean. It’s heavy-handed. It’s autocratic.
But, darn it, people who took the time to pick out and mail a gift to you, deserve acknowledgement for trying to make your life better.
It’s a small price to pay, but one I think is well worth it.
So. . . *sigh* Yes, Mom. You were right about saying thank you in a short letter. Again.