A few months ago, I was given a thank you note from the parent of one of the boys my son had at his sleepover party. She thanked me for having him over. He had a great time. I admit this sheepishly, because I had not sent a thank you note for the gift he gave my son! (And, sadly, I still have not.)
Some people are ninja note writers. These people might start writing the thank you notes at the event they are thanking them for attending. They can barely fit everything they want to say on the perfect little card they chose. And that perfect card always arrives in your mailbox (not your inbox) at just the right time. I don't hate them. I envy them.
Ninja note-writers are mostly my parents' age (baby boomers), but there are quite a number who are my age. (Guilt, guilt.)
I am not a ninja note writer.
I'm a professional writer, doggone it! That means, I apparently can use language well enough that people pay money to read what I wrote. And I am also a writer who has been twiddling her thumbs for months between book releases. I've bought special note cards. There is no shortage of stamps in the house. And heaven knows there is quite an assortment of pens around here.
It's not due to lack of training. I come from a family of note-writers, and my grandma was a ninja note-writer. If you did not send a thank you note after she sent you a gift, you heard about it! (It usually came in the polite jab, "I wasn't sure if you got your gift or not," but sometimes, in later years, progressed to the more blunt, "So, I guess no one sends thank you notes anymore.") I'm not sure if my mother learned it from her mother or not, but she too meticulously follows the guidelines of note-writing. (Her forte, however, is making the beautiful cards herself. So she has a special interest.)
What, then, is my problem?
I think it might be one of these.
1. I don't want it to look like a form letter.
We are told to thank the person for the gift and say how you will use it. That's TWO sentences! It does not take up a whole card, no matter how small the card is. You know when you've received a card with two sentences that it was either sent to you by a child with a mother hovering over his shoulder or an adult who stared at the blank card for an hour with an imaginary mother hovering over her shoulder.
2. Expectations are high.
Thanks, ninja note-writers. Since your card brought me to tears, I may never be able to face myself in a mirror again after writing anything less. Did I mention I'm a writer? People know this.
3. I forget!
Lame excuse, I know, but when something is not a habit, it tends to fall by the wayside. I am convinced I will not write a note unless I set my calendar alarm for a specific time.
4. People tell me not to worry about it.
And I believe them. Does this sound familiar to you, "Oh, dear, you have so much on your plate, with your new <insert here: husband, job, baby, house… whatever was the reason for the gift!> Don't you even think about taking time for me." I always tend to think people mean this. Perhaps some do.
5. Time Limits
By the time I have gotten around to putting the gift where it belongs, sometimes two weeks may have passed. Sometimes more. At any rate, they say that late gratitude is better than no gratitude, but it still seems a little embarrassing to thank someone so far in the future that they don't even remember what they did.
6. Where will this madness end???
But here it is. I am afraid of the avalanche. First, you thank people for gifts. Then, you thank people for cards. Then, for visits. Then, for what they mean to you. That would be just about everyone I know! (That's a lot of cards.)
Is that a bad thing? Some people really treasure written gratitude. I'm not one of them, but it shouldn't stop me from sending it to someone who might be. Really, we all like to know that someone, at some point in their day, thought about us in a positive way.
Notice I didn't put lack of time as one of my excuses. I really can't say that's it. If I were to just commit 15 minutes each day - I'm sure I could easily find 15 minutes - I could knock out 300 or so in a year (with a little grace).
Maybe I'll give that a shot. Once I'm done sitting here on the computer, maybe I'll actually close it up and look for a pen. Time to go set that calendar alarm!
Passion Under Grace,