Thank You (Letters, that is)

16 March 2012

I’m still a bit of a stickler for writing letters on certain occasions.  There are times I think when only a letter will do.  I was a bit astounded when I first saw cards to send to the bereaved – what’s wrong with a little note saying how sorry you are etc etc and maybe mentioning some memorable occasion in the life of the deceased?  It takes less time than going to the shop and finding an appropriate card (presuming you don’t keep a stack of them to hand at home) and I’ve found it means so much to the recipient. 

And wedding gift “thank you’s”.  I don’t want a pre-printed card saying how much they liked my gift.  I want a letter.  Not a tome, just a short note will do. 

As children, we were made to write letters to thank people for Christmas and birthday gifts.  It was a bit of a chore but was compulsary. It’s easy to say “Thank you for the lovely jumper”, then the creative juices stop flowing.  So after much sucking of the end of the pen, I’d come up with something like “It looks very nice with the new skirt I got” and “I had a lovely birthday party and Susan was sick”.  You get the picture.  But it sure taught me how to write a few appropriate lines.

I’ve found lately that so often when I send a present to a child (or adult for that matter), I don’t even know whether it’s arrived safely.  And if after a few weeks, I raise the subject (as in “I popped something in the post for X – I do hope he received it”), the response is usually “Yes, he loves it and plays with it all the time” or something along those lines.  Would it not have been polite to have told me?  Or if the child is old enough to write, make them tell me?  Sometimes I’d even be happy with an email as that’s better than nothing. 

Don’t let letter-writing completely die out.  It’s even MORE appreciated nowadays because most people receive so few.    



  1. The other year, at about the time of the bird flu fuss, I spotted a box of sympathy cards for sale. At the time, I quipped that the card company must have been preparing for the pandemic.

  2. I do agree. I have found that people are genuinely amazed but impressed when they receive a thank you note from me.

    And I loathe bereavement cards, too – they are tacky at best and maudlin at worst.

  3. It was through a global pen pal start up that I met Emily and thereby you. I truly believe letter writing still has a place in our world – but I also think I am in the minority.

  4. I managed to write my “Thank you’ letters so quickly after my wedding, that they got home before some guests did.

    This was political. My dear sister-in-law, on receiving a gift for her child, my niece managed to annoy me. The response to a hand knitted jumper for her child’s first birthday: a text to my husband saying “I see Emma contributed. There were so many parcels I got bored opening them.”

    Hand-written notes are very much appreciated here. I will admit, I have a fairly standard formula for them, but they are hand-written and a bit more polite than “Bored now!”


  5. I absolutly agree with you – I have spent years getting my children to write Thank You notes and now that they have left home I don’t think they continue the practice, so I end up calling and making excuses as to why they didn’t have ‘time’!

  6. I’ve just completed around 25 thank you notes for gifts for my new baby – It took about 8 weeks to get them all done and I’m not sure that they are legible, but I hope they are received well, despite being so late.

    Incidentally, when I do send a card I find I have to write a note on the opposite side of the page where the printed greeting is anyway…old habits. But I find that many of my friends do this too.

    My Grandmother, on the other hand, would only ever add the words “Dear [insert name here]” and “love, Nana” to a hallmark card. She was literate but perhaps very uncomfortable expressing her emotions or connections between herself and others.

    Just throwing it out there…but I wonder if the kind of emotional literacy that acknowledges such connection is missing or seen as unnecessary in our super busy society….or something akin to this.. thoughts still a little affected by sleep deprivation.

  7. I would often use a card to write to someone (particularly if I don’t know them that well) but not one that says anything inside. I would then write a letter to the person.

    But I do wonder if Cat is right about people struggling to write emotional stuff for themselves?

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