Following the Winter Holidays and all the giving and receiving of gifts, thank you notes became a topic of discussion in my family. It seemed to hit a nerve for me; I definitely have my own point of view.
Before I made an official comment I decided to do a search on the internet of the who, what, when, where and why of this custom. I was surprised to learn that messages of fortune and goodwill on slips of papyrus were the first known greetings exchanged in Chinese and Egyptian culture. In the 1400s, Europeans practiced exchanging notes as a new way of social expression, writing on paper and hand delivering greeting cards locally. In 1856, Pouis Prang, a German immigrant, brought greeting cards and notes to America.
With the invention of the stamp, in 1840, sending notes on a larger scale became practical. Stores began selling printed notes adorned with artwork, while etiquette books recommended the best practices for writing and sending thank-you notes.
And, so I decided to find out when etiquette requires a thank-you note be sent. Here it is: wedding gifts, Bridal shower and baby shower gifts, Holiday, birthday, Bar/Bat mitzvah, graduation, and housewarming gifts, Sympathy letters, flowers, mass cards, or donations made in the deceased’s name.
Thank-you notes are not necessarily required but are a nice gesture in the following situations: When a host has treated you to a cocktail party, dinner, or concert, after a job interview and anytime you feel particularly indebted to someone
The question of thank you cards was answered. Yes thank you notes for holiday gifts are required. Does that mean I should expect a bunch of cards in my mail box from family, friends and work associates the first week of January? Not likely. But it sounds like I need to add another day to the after holiday wrap up to write my own thank yous.
Note to self, in addition to the ritual of shopping, wrapping, shipping, decorating the house, cooking a holiday dinner, cleaning up for a get-to-gathers, then putting it away and settling in for the New Year, allocate a few hours to express appreciation for the gifts you received, but mostly for the person that took time out to remember me.
Although I never give a gift or money with the expectation of receiving a thank you card, I must say–it was a sweet surprise when we received a thank you from my nieces and nephew for their monetary gifts. Due to distance and unfamiliarity with what our east coast parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews needs, cash and gift cards have become the perfect solution. With thousands of miles between us and rarely any other contact throughout the year, an email, call, text or thank you note confirms the gift was received.
Teaching children the value and appreciation for people who care and shower their generosity on them at a young age can be instilled with the act of sending a thank you note. Today, too much is expected without appreciation of the time, energy and sometimes sacrifice one may make to give a birthday or holiday gift.
Where it gets complicated for me, is why this act of thanks is expected of children and grandchildren but not of parents. I never expected nor did I receive a thank you from my parents. Their words, the smile on their face said enough. That was then. Today I see it differently. Parent or child, a thank you note, an expression of appreciation with a call, or email is an important act of connectedness.
As email and text messages replace letters, a hand written thank-you note has become all the more valued. Taking time to physically write a thank-you note and send it in the mail is an effort that truly stands out and makes any gesture of generosity come full circle. Who doesn’t love receiving a handwritten letter?
Who in your life deserves a hand-written thank you?