To the women in my life,
Enough with the thank you notes!
Though our means of communication—phone, email, text, video, social media—have expanded dramatically over the past 25 years, etiquette and social pressure seemingly dictates that the only proper way to truly say thank you is by sitting down to handwrite a card (preferably on some sort of personalized stationery or at least thick paper stock) and then send it through the mail. Recently, Kveller writer Samantha Taylor wrote why she “tortures” her kids with this rule.
While I respect her thought process, I say it is time to end this madness.
Though I haven’t done a detailed analysis, I would generously estimate that at least 9 out of every 10 thank you cards my family receives are written by a girlfriend, wife, or mother. For all the progress we’ve made, thank you notes (outside of ones written for professional purposes) remain firmly within the domain of women.
Let’s talk birthday parties. You invite my child. You entertain him for two hours. You feed him delicious pizza and ice cream. He often leaves with a goodie bag. In exchange, I bring you $15 worth of books. Couldn’t we call it even? Or perhaps an opportunity for a friendly exchange in the carpool line?
And yet, more often than not, I receive a hand written note from a mom. We are literally spending hours sending thank you notes back and forth to each other in an endless cycle of appreciation for gifts that (let’s be honest) may have already been regifted, returned, or put into the toy closet to be brought out at a later date.
Oh, I know what many of you are going to say. You don’t just write the cards; you involve your children so that they can learn the importance of saying thank you (or at least practice writing their names). This is a beautiful sentiment. But now somehow not only is there the societal expectation of writing thank you notes, but we moms also need to spend the already limited time many of us have with our children standing over them while they write cards or creating an activity (stamping hands, tracing name dots) that somehow helps them deepen their appreciation of the gifts bestowed upon them.
I am not saying let’s do away with giving thanks. In today’s world, we need to lead by example and also instill in our children the importance of expressing our gratitude to one another. But let’s welcome the photo text, the video message of appreciation, the public call out on Facebook, the in-person thank you at school with as much conviction as we do the almighty handwritten, hand stamped thank you note. Let’s share these sentiments of appreciation—through our many forms of communication, including yes, even the thank you card if you are so inclined—not only for the goods that we receive but also the multitude of ways our friends and family support us.
One caveat: Grandparents still require handwritten thank you notes. I mean, I am not a monster. But gentlemen, if you’re not already, it would be great if you could take the lead in sending the ones to your side of the family.