I received a thank you note in the mail the other day. You could have knocked me over with a feather! I don’t even remember the last time I received a non-business-related thank you note. (It was a pleasure to meet you last week at XYZ Travel Conference… Sometimes it’s even “last month”, or even “last year”!)
With constant daily reminders of what a different world we live in, I haven’t wasted any time bemoaning the demise of this ritual, and it may seem trivial in the course of human existence, but it is worth noting that skipping this small nicety was universally regarded as an unconscionable breach of etiquette – I daresay, for hundreds of years!
In my house, there was never any discussion. Every holiday or birthday was immediately followed by a sit-down to pen the obligatory follow-up notes “because if you didn’t, you would never get another present from anybody”! And I dutifully paid forward this tradition to my own kids as they were growing up. Not that it did any good. It is my understanding that gift-giving and receiving are still alive and well, but it has been literally decades since I’ve actually received such a note.*
That’s why this is a noteworthy event, and should be duly recognized.
The card I just received was textbook: a hand-written description of just how the gift is being used (in this case, consumed), and thanking me for attending the party. Personalized. Warm and fuzzy. I should have it framed. Or perhaps included in a time capsule, with all the other lapsed niceties of yore.
Facebook has – for better or worse – largely taken over this area of human etiquette. You can send out invitations online, and the recipients merely tap a response of yes, no, or maybe – covering all the bases.
I have a friend whose response to nearly any of life’s challenges is, “Life’s a bitch. Then you die.”
Works for me.
* PS In the interest of fairness, when I wrote this piece, this sentence was true. But my granddaughter has since gotten married – and in due time sent me a hand-written thank you note! Hallelujah, and thank you, Kayna! (There is hope for millennials, after all.)
Art credit: The author of this notable thank you is also a gifted artist, and the creator of the accompanying winter scene.