I’ve given myself permission to bend the rules a little on the whole Southern well bred good girl ritual of sending thank you notes.
Nothing hard and fast.
There are certain circumstances under which I will always send them (or call upon superhuman levels of patience while I sit next to the kids writing theirs, pencils poised and tongues stuck out in deep concentration).
It’s a classy act, and I love sending them as much as I do receiving them.
But, when the pace is frantic enough that the very idea stirs up more stress than thoughtful reflection, I’ve decided to skip the stationery drawer.
And I won’t feel lousy about it.
Shortly after the birth of my second child, I was flooded with gifts and meals from friends. I even had an entirely new box of beautifully scripted cards ordered so that I could be as prompt in expressing my appreciation as I was taught.
Yet my second turns six next week, and that stationery box is like three cards shy of being full.
Oh the etiquette horror!
Reflecting on those fuzzy first weeks and months, days of calling one dog the other’s name, checking the mailbox twice, and standing in the grocery store reading my shopping list without really processing what was on it, I made up my mind.
Since then and still now, whenever I take a meal to a friend, or a gift to welcome a new baby or whatever, I make a point of saying “No thank you note necessary.”
“Take the five minutes you’d spend on it and do something else. Anything else. I’m giving you the gift of free time.”
And once they realize I’m serious? A look of sweet relief.
Their acknowledgement in the moment is quite enough.
And isn’t that all a thank you note really is? An acknowledgement of another’s thoughtfulness?
Why do we have to be so formal? And why can’t we acknowledge the gestures that are less grand but still just as meaningful?
This season in particular I’ve taken up the habit of texting acknowledgement of a Christmas card received.
After all, we tend to shell out serious coin hiring the photographer, outfitting everyone properly, ordering the cards and buying the stamps.
It’s not to show how pretty we groom up or to pretend our worlds are picture perfect.
It’s to spread a bit of cheer and to let the recipient know we think enough of them to send mail that’s neither bill nor solicitation.
It’s to let them know, “You are special to me.”
Make them feel special right back.
Acknowledge the gesture – whatever it is – however you can. If not with a hug around the neck, then a heartfelt call, or a text that uses more words than emojis.
No thank you note necessary.