There is a disturbing trend over the last few years that only seems to be getting worse. A simple courtesy and socially proper practice is fast going by the wayside… that courtesy is the thank-you note.
The first time I realized that we didn’t receive a thank-you note was for a nice Bar Mitzvah gift we gave. I passed that off as a lapse in manners by a 13 year-old even though I know that his parents would be appalled if they knew the lapse occurred (no, we didn’t snitch). Although we have received some thank-you notes from some others, the regularity by which gifts go unacknowledged is not a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when a verbal “thank you” at the time of presentation is fine, other times a phone call will suffice, and even an email expressing appreciation is enough in certain circumstances. However, there are certain occasions where a handwritten note has no acceptable substitute. Those occasions are—and this is not necessarily an exclusive list: weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and bridal and baby showers, and baby gifts.
I can equivocally state that I have, in the last two years, given gifts for all of these occasions, many times without receiving any thank you, written or otherwise. I know that no etiquette expert will ever state that this is acceptable. I believe that anytime that the question is asked, “Do I need to send a thank-you note?” is asked, while “no” may be an acceptable answer in certain occasions, “yes” is never a wrong answer. In my mind, if someone asks that question, it is highly likely that “yes” is the right answer.
My point to this is, don’t make yourself look like an ill-mannered cad with a sense of entitlement. Help bring back the simple courtesies of society and dash off the note. It’s amazing how much it means to a person.
For one thing, it lets the senders know not only that you appreciate the gift, but in the case where you sent the gift, they actually received it. It also acknowledges that you are willing to spend a few minutes recognizing that the giver spent time and thought in selecting the gift.
I could regale you with stories of people that I thought were cultured and understood proper etiquette that never sent notes for wedding gifts. However in all fairness, I can also tell of a few—too few—cases of very young children sending absolutely lovely notes when we didn’t expect them. Those were unbelievably welcome surprises.
The worst, and perhaps worse than no note at all, was one time where we did receive a note. It was printed on a “thank you” note card, however it was completely computer generated, without our names, and a generic “thank you for the lovely gift” written in Times New Roman font. The envelope was obviously addressed by computer from the guest list using address labels. After receiving it, I almost looked to see if there was another document stating “I have received the enclosed thank-you note and acknowledge that the gift recipient has satisfied the requirements of appreciatory sentiment as specified under the laws of proper etiquette. Please return this form by certified mail, signed and notarized, within 72 hours.”
All I can say is: how does anybody not know that this trend is just simply wrong?