The post holiday sigh…yes, I heard it coming from my mouth last night. It was sort of a combination of the low pitched ahhhh, I will miss laid back mornings, not crazily getting my boys to brush their teeth and use the toilet before the winter layering begins. And also the high pitched ahhh, back to the schedules, routines and brown ink. The latter ahhh also had something to do with the bit of relief I felt knowing the Thank You note list has been completed. My goal was to have each recipient crossed off by the time school began and I was thrilled to reach the end.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing notes. I do. It honestly does not feel like an obligation, a “should.” It feels more like sending a kiss or handshake in the mail, almost as if the note recaptures my expression when opening the gift.
However, life becomes full even on vacation and taking the time to write notes is not on everyone’s agenda. I get that. So how long do we have to write these needed notes of thanks?
To answer this question I headed to the original, the universally accepted Emily Post’s Etiquette 17th Edition updated by her great-granddaugher-in-law, Peggy (the 18th Edition came out last November, I’m a bit behind the times I guess). Peggy feels it’s almost never too later to send a Thank You note. “Within a week is great; a month is acceptable” she states. But here’s the odd turn. Later on in the book Peggy goes on to state the holiday Thank You note is obligatory “unless you’ve thanked the giver in person. For a very close friend or relative, a phone call is sufficient.” Well surprise, surprise.
My next source is Margaret Shepherd, a calligrapher who wrote the book The Art of the Handwritten Note. She would disagree with Ms. Post and feels even if you open the gifts together, thank each other later on paper. “The notes you write to your own children or younger relative are perhaps the most important of all, because you can inspire them to write their own notes.” Love her. She also feels “the gifts themselves are not as important in ones friendship as the thank you notes that result.” Margaret is my new guru (more on her in future posts).
What both Post and Shepherd agree upon is the ability to use your natural voice. No one needs to excel at writing to compose a good note.
The Thank You is not only a reminder to your friend of how much you appreciate the gift received but, more importantly, an indication of the value of that person’s friendship. And the beauty is you can send a Thank You note for many reasons, not just after receiving a gift. Such as…
– To someone who provided you meaningful advice
– To a friend who had you over for a memorable meal
– To a host of a fabulous summer cocktail party you attended
– To the post officer who helped you with an enormous amount of packages during the holiday rush
– To the next door neighbor who consistently saves your dinner with the needed lemon or stick of butter
– Or to someone who has supported you through difficult times
I find the unexpected note of appreciation and gratitude is one I value the most of all.
But I digress. Back to the post holidays notes – And herein lies the question: Have you finished your Thank You notes? We swear, no guilt coming from brown ink only a reminder of the satisfaction you’ll feel knowing your sentiments have been signed, sealed and delivered. And don’t worry about the length, keep it short. It’s the authenticity that counts. Grab some pretty paper, your favorite pen and get to it. At least before Valentine’s Day.