No thank you.

I had dinner tonight with some of my favorite girlfriends and an interesting topic came up. Actually the topic is a little boring, but the conversation surrounding it was entertaining and got me thinking….

Are thank-you notes still necessary and expected, or are they an antiquated practice that we feel compelled to perform because our moms MADE US DO IT 30 years ago? The consensus fell somewhere along the lines of “Yeah, they’re a nice gesture, but completely impractical and (for our generation…or perhaps our table at Margarita’s after drinking a few margaritas) not expected.”

In reflecting on my own thank-you writing practice, I’ve recognized that I really only write thank-you notes when the gift is particularly thoughtful or given in a formal setting (baby shower, wedding, etc.). So if you’ve given me a crap gift in an informal setting, sorry, I probably didn’t write you a note. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate it or I was any less grateful. Unless it was seriously a crap gift. But I probably still love you as a person.

The struggle for me really comes when it’s time for my kids to write thank-you notes. We are trying desperately to raise grateful, thankful, un-entitled children. And that is proving to be super hard. Especially when grandparents (who shall remain nameless) are coming at them from all angles with ALL OF THE THINGS.

When the kids were babies and couldn’t hold writing utensils, things were easy. I would just write the thank-you on their behalf. As they got older and developed “writing skills,” the expectation was that they would write their own notes.

That sounds like some strong parenting, right? Uhhem….Have you ever supervised a 5 year old trying to write a thank you note? It will bring you to the brink of insanity. They will insist on using a pen, misspell every other word, and then scratch out their mistakes with a haphazard disregard that results in standing pools of ink on your cheap Target stationary that end up smeared across your kitchen counter, their clothing and quite possibly their faces. Or they will take your advice and use a pencil, but push way too hard and break the lead 5 times before they have finished the word “Dear.” And if they make a mistake, they can’t erase it because they pushed way too hard and now the pencil marks are too dark and have actually engraved the paper. Each note takes approximately 527 minutes, so when you multiply that by the number of kids at any given birthday party, you have wasted the good chunk of your life. And you have probably considered burning down your house.

If you have supervised thank-you writing, survived the process and actually mailed said cards to their recipients, props to you! You are killing it in the parenting department. But I bet you are a rigid, boring person with a black soul who never has any fun. (Totally kidding…just trying to make myself feel better.) Which brings me to my next personal blunder. The mailing of the cards.

Luke had a lovely birthday party with a few friends when he turned 4. We kinda survived the thank-you process and all notes were completed within a couple weeks of the party. I managed to distribute a few of the cards in a timely fashion, but there are 2 cards I just haven’t had the time to send. Luke will be 7 in July. So, because I have abandoned all hope of actually distributing these cards…here they are…in virtual form for Henry, Isaac and Hudson.

I had every expectation that I would run into these boys’ moms
and hand them the cards in person.
This literally took 578 minutes. The illustrations added extra time, but in the end added a nice personal touch that really drove home the message of gratitude and friendship. And the understanding that they both have something growing out of their faces.
And after a significant amount of my life had been spent in note-writing supervision, on the brink of setting it all on fire, I caved and wrote this one myself. Luke was probably lounging on the couch by this point, eating crackers and watching Paw Patrol, but he was kind enough to lend an official signature.

So, Amanda and LeAnn…please let your boys know that we didn’t forget them. We are grateful for their gifts and their friendship. Luke continues to really love the light sabers and the Legos. And in the future, while we will probably continue to approach thank-you notes with the best of intentions… Actually nope, scratch that. We will simply thank you in person for your lovely gift and for your friendship and call it a day. And my house will not burn to the ground.


Cbart, MD

P.S. Please don’t tell my mom.

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