With graduations and weddings soon upon us, it occurred to me to write about the dreaded “Thank You Note.” I know we’re all grateful people and so are our kids, but somehow writing thank you notes can loom over us. One survey revealed that writing thank you notes was number seven on the top ten things we tend to put off doing. For me, it’s number three on my list of put-offs.
My best advice is to keep a good supply of Thank You Notes on hand. It’d be a good idea to put a few in a Zip-Lock bag along with some stamps in your purse for those times you end up having to wait, like in the dentist’s office, on a flight or while you wait at the beauty salon. (Just think how thankful you could be when at a standstill in a traffic jam!) I found that The Dollar Store has a wonderful supply of Thank You Notes for; you guessed it, a dollar!
When I was a little girl, my mom was relentless about making me send my grandparents thank you notes after Christmas and birthdays. Grandma Dot and Grandpa Buddy’s check came faithfully on those occasions and every day until I’d finally sit down and write the card, mom was on my case. I remember hating those nagging words, “Have you written your thank you note yet?”
I asked my friend Marci who is an exemplar mother with two adorable adult children, “Did you hound your kids to write thank you notes after Christmas, birthdays and graduations?”
“Really? You mean they just did it without being badgered?”
“Well, not exactly. I just said, ‘You wanna play with that toy, read that new book spend that money? Write your thank you notes first and then you can.’”
“You mean they had to write thank you notes BEFORE they got to have the gift?”
There you go! I think that’s brilliant! The proverbial toy, book or money on a stick thing. I asked my three adult children if they remembered me being a stickler for them to write thank you notes and they don’t remember that. It’s probably because I wasn’t good at writing them myself. Just last year I put off sending a thank you note to our friends after a lovely dinner (mainly because I was out of thank you notes) and finally many months later I just sent them a thank you in a left-over Congratulations on Your New Job card explaining my reason for being late and why I used the inappropriate card.)
Now as a grandparent, I’m more often than not on the receiving (or not receiving) end of the thank you note problem. With 12 grandchildren and half of them far away, I send cash, so I’m always a little antsy to know if a child received the money. I don’t fault them when they’re late in sending thank you notes, I just want to know they got the money, not some birthday card thief. I really understand how busy children are. I know our grandchildren love us and they truly appreciate getting the money. By the way, I have created a video with ten funny and clever ways to give cash as a gift. It’s called Everybody Loves Money (ELM) and if you go to my website you can order it.
Just this month, I hadn’t heard from my 15-year-old granddaughter whom we’d sent money to for her birthday on May 1, so I called my son.
Ring, ring, ring,
“Hi, Michael. I was wonderin’ if Brooklyn got her birthday card and the money.”
“Big sigh….yeah, she did and I told her, ‘you gotta thank the old people ‘cause they don’t have anything else to do but sit around waitin’ to know if you got your card and money.’”
“Well! I beg your pardon Mister, is that what you picture us doing?”
He snickered his way out of that, blaming his opinion more on his father (my ex) doing that.
Short and Sweet.
Marci and I agreed that one of the problems kids face when writing a thank you note is knowing what to say. We both agreed that the message can be very simple:
Dear Grandma Dot,
Thank you for the money, I really appreciate it. I love you and miss you.
(The, “I love you and miss you” are very important things to say to those “old people.”) Incidentally, I hand wrote that thank you note and it took me less than a minute; another minute and I could have addressed an envelope and put a stamp on it.
Because I know how busy our grandchildren are, I have thought that I could include with the card and money, a thank you note already written and to include a self-addressed stamped envelope. All the kid would have to do is sign it and send it! It would say something like:
Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
I love you and miss you soooo much. You are the most wonderful, youthful, handsome and beautiful grandparents I have. Thank you for the money, I’m saving it toward college with some in a special fund so I can help take care of you when you need it.
I don’t know, maybe we shouldn’t let kids off the thank-you-note-hook. Maybe it’s good to teach them to be thankful and have the decency to write to their benefactors. If you think so, let’s adopt Marci’s thank you note model of thank before you use. And if you have older children who are graduating, give them a nice supply of thank you notes and hold all monies and gifts ransom until the notes are written and sent.
I read that Emily Post said the bride and groom have one year to send out thank you notes for wedding gifts, but I don’t think Marci would approve. I’ll bet she told her kids on their wedding day “You get those thank you notes out before you go to bed!”