The first really conscious thought I had this morning was "Oh shit I still have to write MImi that thank you note." Thank you notes are little letters that certain people expect from you acknowledging gifts that they have sent ostensibly so that they know that you have received said gift, but often simply to glorify the gift-giver. At least that's how it goes in my family. My grandmother, Mimi, is the worst where these things are concerned. She has sent each grandchild monogrammed stationary for as long as I remember for the sole purpose of always having something to write her thank you notes with. Failure to respond with the proper degree of enthusiasm would not only result in a serious downgrade of gifts - she liked to give the really good presents to her favorite, of which I was never one. My cousin Anne got a 1969 VW Bug convertible for her 16th birthday. I got a clock radio. I admit it, I'm bitter, but this woman's mean. - but would also result in a stern lecture detailing how ungrateful we all are. This Christmas, my sister, who is usually a favorite, got a copy of Emily Post with a stamped postcard marking the section on Thank you notes. The woman's obsessed! My sister wrote her a note detailing how rude she thought that gesture was. She called it the Not-Thank-You note.
My suitcase broke not too long ago and at my sister's wedding I mentioned it. Mimi had an old one that she sent me. I received it last week, but didn't open it until last night.
Inside was a stamped envelope addressed to her, with my address in the corner.
Some personal stories

I always had a deplorable notion of thank-you notes. I used to dread writing them, as they were an act of obligation, and usually addressed to distant relatives. Then, last summer, I went to a birthday party for a co-worker at a bar. I didn't know her very well, but she had invited me along and so I brought her a card and made an appearance.

When I next saw her at work, she smiled and pulled a little note out of her pocket and gave it to me. It was fluorescent pink, just a folded paper about two or three inches square, that read

You helped to make my birthday even more special. Thanks for coming!

It was by no means an extensive or complex note, and it hadn't taken her very long. She had been sick after drinking so much and had made Thank-you Notes for everybody who had came while lying in bed. But it still made me feel appreciated and had an impact on me.

I've remembered that note months later, when helping organizing a charity art show/coffee night. I got some of the kids in an art class I helped out with to donate or create some art. Out of the five or six classes I talked to, only about a dozen took a few minutes to do a sketch or something we could sell.

I wanted to show them how much I appreciated their contributions, and made each of them little cards thanking them personally and telling them they had helped make the night a success. I've never felt so good giving a thank you note.

About six months ago, a friend died in a car accident. I was never too close to him, but he was in my circle of friends and I had known him longer than most, as he was one of three others who accompanied me from middle school to our art high school. I was away from school the day he died and was told over the phone. Later on that night, the doorbell rang and I opened it to an old boyfriend. Like me, he had gone to our middle school. He had known I was away from school and looked up my address in the phone book (I had moved since I knew him). We don't talk much at all - but he had driven up to my house to tell me in person.

I thought about this gesture for a few days. I'm not overly comfortable talking to him but I wanted to thank him for a measure of respect and maturity amidst a thousand callous remarks. So I gave him a note a few days later that simply said

Thanks for coming by my house. It's not often you find people willing to overcome obstacles such as these to do the right thing. I wanted you to know I really appreciate it.

He gave me one of the best hugs I've ever gotten.

Thank-you cards are win-win situations when they're genuine.



Just a note for your hospitality,
for numerous couch pillows, always on the floor

To your collection of piano sonatas
dark as coal coffee,
pine scented candles

I appreciated the fresh biscuits
your handmade quilts
the shimmery window in your den
framed with small Christmas lights
all year round

A special mention- your gracious headboard
sturdy when necessary,
soft when we needed it to be.

Send my regards,
e.

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