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.

  • belinda stevens says:

    Brava, brava, brava! On this post!

    It is a particular delight for me as well to use my personal stationery and, yes, pick out just the right stamp to write to others. In this day of texts, texts, texts, I always love receiving a handwritten note. It makes my day.
    And yes — I, too, am waiting for the thank you from the December 16 wedding in our family. Haven’t received one and would appreciate one. But I get to give without expecting anything in return in this case, even a thank you note!

  • A lost art for sure, and what has happened to invitations??? Evite just isn’t the same!! Happy Mother’s Day Leslie Anne!

  • Oh, you hit on the one topic that sends me into orbit…the lack of thank you notes! I can put up with a lot of bad manners, but I have no tolerance for this misdemeanor. Even as a small child my Mama made me sit down the day after Christmas to scribble thank you notes. Today I have a lovely assortment of stationary and my Waterman fountain pen from Paris, and I dash off notes with pleasure. I sent a note to the neurosurgeon who operated on back…when I went in for my checkup, he was holding it in his hand and told me in 30 years I was the first person to thank him. Why would I not thank the person who cured my pain?

    • That is so clever and kind to send your doctor a thank you note. Now I feel like a chunk of badness for not thanking my cardiologist! (although I did give her a book). hahaha! Good for you!

  • Some of ourgrandchildren have totally ignored receipt of birthday and Christmas gifts the last two years. I’ve tried reminding myself I gave the gifts because I wanted to but still am ‘miffed’ that I didn’t even get a text to acknowledge they got the gifts. A coworker and I decided one year to start sending thank you notes to all the vendors who gifted us at Christmas. I think we got way more enjoyment out of their surprise than they did from the notes! It’s a nice thing to do in a frequently un-nice world.

    • You never know how your act of kindness will influence and cheer others. Good for you!

  • Karyn Tunks says:

    Thank you for reminding us that there are still people out there thoughtful enough to send thank you notes. Sorry to say I am not one of them but, of course, you already knew that. (:

    • Umm . . . your comment just now counts as a thank you note. Doesn’t it?

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