Thank You. No, Thank YOU.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nora's birthday party was two months ago. I just got the rest of the thank you cards in the mail this past week.

(OK, fine. I actually have 2-3 more to go, but they are for people who gave Nora her gifts very recently, so that doesn't count.)

Call me a slacker, call me rude... but we jumped right into the drywall project the day after the party, and life got a little crazy. So things that I would normally be pretty on top of fell to the wayside. In situations like this, I figure it's better late than never, right?

On Monday, I stuck Mary's thank you note (Mary is Nora's daycare provider) in Nora's bag with the check for the week. Yesterday, Mary happened to mention to me that she found it, and began thanking me (multiple times) for such a cute and wonderful note.

I found myself laughing. It was a thank you note. I was thanking you. You don't need to thank me for the thank you! What's funny is that Mary's not the only one. I got thank yous for the thank you from a handful of other people as well.

This got me thinking: Do people not send thank you cards anymore? Is it "abnormal" to send thank you notes for a baby's first birthday party?

My sister-in-law is a thank you note queen, as she sends them out for anything and everything, and you get them from her a day or two after the party. She's on top of her game. Me, on the other hand... I'll admit that I don't send them for everything. Like, in instances where gifts are exchanged--like Christmas--I've never sent them. I'm not even particularly good at sending them after my own birthday. But the only birthday gifts I really get are from my immediate family, and I guess I feel like a good, heartfelt, in-person thank you suffices in those situations.

But when we throw parties and people take time out of their days to come and celebrate, and bring gifts? I can't imagine not sending a thank you note.

Keep in mind that all of this is coming from someone who has a love for good ol'-fashioned paper. I love greeting cards (and Christmas cards!). And invitations. And stationary. And little note cards. (I don't like paying postage, but that's a whole 'nother ballgame. And even so, it's worth it.)

But still, why a thank you for a thank you?

Tell me, friends: Do you send thank you notes? For everything? For specific occasions? Do you have rules about how quickly you get them in the mail?

The other thing I've noticed is that the way people write thank you notes can vary greatly. I, for one, seem to write A LOT in thank you notes. Two to three small paragraphs, so they take a while to write! On the contrary, some thank you notes I receive are just a sentence or two, which is fine with me--I guess I just have some need to fill up as much of the space on the card as possible.

Maybe I just need to learn to write bigger. :)


Lori (Christoffersen) Johnson November 10, 2011 at 12:55 PM  

God bless you, your sister-in-law and thank-you note writers everywhere. When it comes to this now-lost-art, my dear mom taught me well. It angers me that most people never take the time to express gratitude in writing. I'm talking ever. My own large extended family doesn't acknowledge anything they don't receive in person. It hurts me more than I can express. Giving and being thoughtful as time and money allows has always been a huge source of joy for me. What to do?

Lauren November 10, 2011 at 1:14 PM  

I have no idea if I do the "right" thing either... obviously big occasions are a must - weddings, showers, etc. Holidays like Christmas, I don't send them. If I have a birthday PARTY I send out formal thank yous, any sort of party where there's a gathering I send them, but if I don't have a party I usually just call/message a thank you vs sending out a formal card.

Dana November 10, 2011 at 1:38 PM  

Better late than never.

Ashley November 10, 2011 at 1:48 PM  

I never understood the practice until I got married and did ours. Then friends started getting married, and I would notice when I did NOT receive a card... it bothered me! When we had our son, our thank you cards for all the gifts we got were out within a week. I always thank them for the gifts specifically, so they know that I recognize what they got us, rather than a blanket "thank you for the gift... etc". Now with our son, I take a picture of him, edit it to say thank you, and write on the back. I was bad with his last birthday, and it took me 3 weeks to get them out!

My grandma....she is the queen of thank you cards, notes, letters etc. She comes to events/parties with thank you cards for the host/hostess. If we visit, you can guarantee that you will get a note in the mail within the week! I Love it. I've kept everyone I've gotten from her since I met her (technically grandma in law) 10 years ago!

Erin November 10, 2011 at 1:50 PM  

If I get a gift that I am not receiving in the presence of the gift-giver, I always will write something to them. However, I am kind of a card hater - I immediately recycle them and really usually just feel bad that they took the time to write and mail me something when they ALREADY thanked me in person, especially if the person in question is a new mom. Totally different story if you send something - then at least I'd like some kind of acknowledgement that they received it.

Usually what I do is email a quick photo of Annie using the gift the person got to them. However, I'm not consistent about it. We never do thank yous for Christmas and like I said, if we say thank you in person I really do not feel the need to waste paper and postage to send something to them after the fact. This is what I did for Annie's first birthday - it's possible a few people may have cared, but it was just my immediate family and friends, so I doubt it. I for sure would have heard about it if they did :)

Anonymous,  November 10, 2011 at 2:34 PM  

Yes...THANK YOU for writing this post and sending out a written thank you. I am a card carrying member of AARP for several years but I hate that this is now a lost art. For example, and I have many over the years.I went to a wedding last summer and have never received a thank you note. Yes the bride has told people she thinks it is crazy to send out a thank you. This one hurt especially bad. You see I traveled over 500 miles, had to get a hotel room for a few nights,an airplane ticket ,meals and so on. Yes the kennel for my pup. I gave a generous gift of money and a homemade one too. This person is also a relative. It gets worse. They had no receiving line and neither bride,groom,parents or anyone came around to give a verbal thanks for coming. Actually I have heard complaints from others about this bet your child care provider was stunned. Thankfully my two kids always send thank you cards and I have received my kuddos for raisinf such thoughtful children. Thanks, Bella

I found your blog last year and enjoy your posts. Very real and very versatile!

PhaseThreeOfLife November 10, 2011 at 3:06 PM  

I use your exact same guidelines. I always send thank you notes for "events" (birthday parties, showers, etc). That's the obvious stuff, at least in my opinion. I don't typically send thank you notes for birthday gifts (nor do I ever get a thank you note from anyone for a birthday gift I've given). But I do thank in person or call the person if it's been mailed. And I don't send thank yous for occasions where I've exchanged gifts, like Christmas. I do also tend to send thank yous for "acts of service"... like a few friends helped us moved recently, and I sent them all a thank you note.

I don't so much care about when or how I receive thank yous, although it does bother me when I mail something and never hear back. I always worry that the gift got lost in the mail, etc, but I hate to ask if it arrived, because it seems like you're fishing for a thank you.

Tiffany November 10, 2011 at 6:09 PM  

I'm like you- if it's an occasion where gifts are exchanged, I prefer/tend not to send them. But I do for everything else. My hubs was raised to send them for EVERYTHING so I at least have to for his side of the family. ;)

Kelsey November 10, 2011 at 10:37 PM  

I'm right there with you! I think it's so important to send thank you cards and practice gratitude in everyday life. I have so many wonderful people in my life who are generous and kind. Why wouldn't I acknowledge their thoughtfulness? Gratitude should be shown often and joyfully, not treated as a burden or abandoned altogether.

My own personal strategy for getting thank you cards in the mail on time is that I don't put away or use the gift until I've sent the card. That way I have a constant visual reminder to write my cards and I usually get it done within a week of receiving the gift.

Anonymous,  November 11, 2011 at 12:23 AM  

I always sent thank you cards for my kids. When they were old enough, I had them draw a picture and I would write a little message under the picture. Now they do it all with a little push sometimes. I actually make sure they say 'thank you' for a car pool ride or any courtesy ride they get. A simple "thank you" is appreciated and not expected nowadays. You are probably one of a few to send a heartfelt thank you to someone who is taken for granted!

Elizabeth November 12, 2011 at 2:42 AM  

It's so great that you send out thank you cards! I send them out and my friends all think I am crazy, but that is just how I was brought up. I think a lot of people have moved away from writing thank yous, but I love the feeling of being able to show someone how grateful I am for whatever it is that I was given.

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