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May 30 2013

Maybe Thank You Cards Aren’t So Bad After All

By at 2:10 pm

cara paiuk twinsAlmost two years ago, I wrote about my disdain for writing thank you cards, and I still have an issue with the premise that thank you cards should be required or expected. Are we not supposed to give a gift, do a favor, or extend a kindness without an expectation of receiving something in return? Do we need the thank you card construct to make us feel good? Rewarded? Acknowledged?

To this day I resent my family for forcing me to write engagement, wedding, and baby shower thank you cards. I especially resent the pressure to churn out thank you cards 24 hours after receiving gifts from people I hardly knew when I was a new mother who couldn’t find time to shower or eat. It just made me regret receiving the gifts in the first place!

So, why oh WHY did I just place an order for thank you cards? I spent a couple of hours choosing the design, fonts, wording, and pictures of the girls I would use to make sure that what I created was picture post card perfect because well, it was going on a post card. Why all this effort for an institution that I reject? What am I, a masochist? Two years ago I wrote, “Now, sometimes thank you cards are the right thing to do. I think when someone gives you an exceptionally thoughtful gift or extends themselves in some way that touches you, a heartfelt thank you card is a nice way to show appreciation for their generosity.” That was my exception then, and this is an exceptional circumstance now.

My husband and I arrived in West Hartford less than a year ago. We have no family nearby and yet we have never felt alone here. The community–OUR community–has welcomed us in ways we could never have imagined, enriching our lives profoundly. We have even more to be thankful for with the welcome they extended to the newest members of the community, our beautiful baby daughters.

To begin with, our friends have gone above and beyond. They have invited our son over for playdates, brought me food when I was on bed rest, kept me company when I felt out of touch, and offered to help any way they can. When we went to the hospital to deliver the babies prematurely and unexpectedly, our planned caregiver for our toddler was unavailable. God bless my friends who stepped in to lovingly care for my son while we were in the hospital; we never for one second worried about Aiven under their watch. What a blessing to know he was having a fantastic time, being fed, and keeping my friends and their kids up past their bed time with his endless energy. Aiven has also been driven home from school for the last three weeks–perhaps a small thing to most, but a huge help to us! A million thank you cards do not seem enough. Our friends will probably never know how much their help meant to my husband and me.

Then when the twins arrived, the broader community stepped up in a big way. The Mitzvah Corp at my son’s school arranged meals to keep my family nourished for a month! They have brought delicious meals over (chicken, blintzes, and lasagnas, oh my!) and with each mouthful I feel deeply grateful and blessed. I received thoughtful gifts from friends and acquaintances near and far, including four boxes of clothes from a mom at school whose daughter had long outgrown onesies. Usually people come out of the woodwork when they want something from you, but in this case I received calls, emails, and texts from people whom I’ve only traded a few words with before now, and I truly appreciate these almost random acts of kindness. A hug and a verbal thank you just doesn’t seem enough for all the people who’ve touched our lives. Hey, a thank you card probably isn’t either, but by doing something I don’t ordinarily do, I can attempt to convey my extraordinary appreciation for our friends and community.

And so, I am going to write thank you cards to our wonderful friends and to the generous, big-hearted people in my community who deserve special recognition for going above and beyond. It is such a small token of gratitude, but I hope the love in these notes will be felt when they open the envelope. One day, I hope that I too will be granted the opportunity to do onto others as they have done unto me, and I just want to say in advance: don’t worry, no thank you card is necessary.

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