An Etiquette Confession

I’m so sorry and thank you very much.

These are not the words I want to write in my thank you letters.  However, here I sit at 10 days post-Christmas without a thank you note written – only good intentions and a list of wonderful people.  My plan was to start the tradition with my children of writing all our thank you’s on December 26th.  On December 27, I made a new plan for each of us to write a bit each day so that the notes would be mailed before the curtain closed on 2010.  On, January 5, I’m revising the plan.  They will be in the mail by Friday.  No matter what.  Cross my heart.

Why aren’t they done?  I would love to tell some story of how the kids are stalling but, this time, it’s me.  I’m getting lost in the details – I want the cards to be personalized with a picture of the kid who’s writing the note.  And it’s that detail, The Picture, that’s stopped the process in its tracks.  I love details, sometimes a bit too much!

So I find myself caught at the crossroads of good intentions and real life.  Where the act of printing pictures comes head-to-head with the act of packing suitcases, driving home, unpacking, starting school and work, rediscovering the gym, and getting back in that ever-present saddle!

Yet, I’ve written countless times about the importance of expressing the gratitude we feel.  In fact, very little is more important than telling loved ones that we appreciate them and are touched by their thoughtfulness.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

~William Arthur Ward

If your thank you notes are done, I think that’s wonderful.  You’re firmly on the side of the etiquette angels.  If, like me, you find yourself to be a bit behind the ball, here are some reminders about thanking the wonderful people in our lives:

  1. Gratitude has no expiration date.  Better late than never?  Absolutely!
  2. Gratitude does not have an expiration date but it’s best served fresh.   (Next year!)
  3. Don’t get hung up on how to thank people for gifts. Gratitude in any form is better than gratitude unexpressed!  I’m a big fan of handwritten thank you notes.  However, I appreciate receiving thank you’s in any form – yes, even email!  The worst etiquette faux pas is to experience but not express gratitude.  So, if a stamp is the detail that will stop your gratitude in its tracks, send an email.  (But consider using actual pen, stationary, and a stamp.  It’s a nice touch!)
  4. In your note, mention the gift and how you’ll use it or why you enjoy it.  Did you receive money?  Don’t mention the actual dollar amount but instead write about how you plan to use the gift.
  5. What if you don’t love the gift?  Never say anything critical in a thank you note.  Statements like “Thank you for the pears.  Most of them arrived fresh,” are missing the point.  Find something genuinely positive to say.  Don’t like the style of the sweater?  Thank the person for their thoughtfulness and mention the beautiful color of the sweater without commenting that you’re all set for your next ugly sweater party.

So, today I will  conquer the details that are standing in the way of my family’s thank you notes.  I will print the pictures.  Personally, I think they were worth the wait:

The coolest shepherd in Bethlehem!
They look angelic but these angels single-handedly led a Christmas pageant turf war of angels versus shepherds. I knew we were in trouble when I heard the angels proclaim, "Get the shepherds!"

8 thoughts on “An Etiquette Confession

  1. Amy, last year I made cute Valentine’s Day cards (see wall photos on fb), and the kids wrote their thank yous on the back–from Christmas. Yes, better late than never indeed!

    1. Beth, they are adorable. And most definitely worth the wait. Hopefully, I’ll have better picture to share now that I’m following your blog!

      (Beth’s photos are not only beautiful but she’s also kindly helping out the rest of us with some tips and ideas for taking better pictures. Her site is Beth Wood Photography. Of course, I’m sure her biggest claim to fame is that she played flutes with me in high school. She was first chair, for the record.)

  2. Our excuse is that the kids have birthdays this month, so we’re going to send 1 thank-you letter instead of 2. I’m not saying this is a good thing. I’m just saying this is our excuse for not having sent thank-you letters yet.

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