The sweetness of a thank you note

May 10, 2019


Lemon is a close second, but my #1 favorite flavor is formal envelope glue. When ice-cream companies host contests to suggest new flavors, I always submit “Crane stationery.” I’ve never won, but I’m sure it inspired the judges to write thank-you letters to their aunts or third grade teachers.  

Nothing compares to the feeling of finishing the last swirl of your signature, folding the note closed and sliding it into in the envelope. Finding the perfect stamp, whether it has flowers, a dignified politically appropriate non-controversial historical figure, a pretty yet non-threatening bird, or the solid and beautiful American flag is the final touch of creativity. 

In an unforgettably tragic episode of the television show, “Seinfeld,” George Costanza was the cheapskate poster boy when he purchased discount wedding stationery resulting in the untimely death of his fiancé who croaked from licking sub-standard questionable envelope glue. Poor Susan. George could never look at an envelope the same way again. 

Two alarming stories, both out of California, have rocked my world. The first was a baby shower in San Francisco that gifted the mother with “no thank you notes to write.” I think it’s the equivalent of saying, “here’s some pepper for your Caesar salad, but I’m taking away the gift of a good satisfying sneeze.”  It just leaves you hanging with no closure. The other story made me gasp and sputter when a friend said she was ridiculed by her office mates in California for sending thank you notes for a surprise birthday party. 

A state that’s not feeling thankful and won’t take a moment to say, “thanks?” No wonder they’re slowly cracking off and sliding into the ocean. A literal earth-shaking lesson from above, if you ask me. 

There have been two young ladies I sent wedding and baby shower gifts to that didn’t send me a thank you note. I know I’m supposed to casually mention to their mother, “Did Lula Belle enjoy the fondue set I dropped off for her wedding?” Just to make sure a naughty neighborhood kid didn’t switch the gift tags or hide it beneath the front porch. But I let it slip until it was too late, so I let it go. But years later, I still feel miffed when I see them. The power of being good and miffed for at least two years goes a long way to keep everyone in line. The raised eyebrows and squished-up lips send an appropriate shudder to the thankless. 

What did Aunt Matilda say? “Blessed are the miffed, for they shall inherit the silver.” 

Dear Aunt Mattie, thank you for the Orange Blossom by Alvin. It fondly reminds me of dinners at your house.

After a grueling hospital stay (what other kind is there?) I became sympathetic for those who fail to write a note when heavy medication caused me to start writing on lined notebook paper with a crayon (Kindergarten teachers can’t ever seem to shake the crayon habit).  My husband knew I would have a total relapse if he allowed me to mail the notes, so he shredded the evidence of my befuddlement and I started over when completely healed and sober. My New Jersey mother in law may have skipped the grits, but at least she taught her son the importance of writing a proper thank you note. (I’ll have to send her a thank you note for that).  

This story first appeared on and in the Mobile Press Register, Birmingham News and The Huntsville Times.

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