I loathe thank-you notes. More accurately, I loathe the way they’re all too often used, which is habitually and insincerely.
Oh, I write one occasionally. I may receive something from someone with whom I only have a mail relationship, and I’ll usually write that person a thank-you note. Or if I get a special gift, sometimes I’ll find the words that fall to mind at the time inadequate and want to follow it up later. But most of the time, I thank people in person, by email, or on the telephone, and a thank-you note in addition to that is just silly.
I visited Anniston a couple of years ago to have dinner with my favorite grade-school teacher. I got there a little early to have a look around town. And on that visit, the current occupants of the house in which I grew up graciously allowed me to step through every single room. (What are the chances of some guy you’ve known for 10 minutes having a look at your master bath?) I definitely wrote them a thank-you note. See what I mean?
That’s not what I’m talking about. I see ample reason for those. And it can be fine if it also serves as a letter, and/or it’s the only “thank you” for something. I’m talking about the ones sent and received that were written and mailed at the same time as 50 other ones that go like “Dear __________, Thank you so much for the __________. I/We plan to use it/are looking forward to using it __________. That was very thoughtful. Thank you again, __________.”
Isn’t that sweet? Doesn’t it just make you want to kiss a cuddly widdle bunny on the nose? Don’t you feel like drowning in a vat of marshmallow creme? Don’t you feel like someone’s cramming a rainbow down your throat?
If thank-you notes were honest, a lot of them would read something like this:
I am writing to acknowledge the receipt of the item you got me for __________. I don’t remember what it was, but I do remember thinking at the time that it was almost certainly an oh-shit-I-forgot throw-in selected from whatever was available within ten feet of the cashier at Target. I think it’s also safe to say it’s already been deposited into some seldom-visited cranny of my house, where I will stumble upon it a couple of years from now and wonder about its origin. Anyway, I’m sending you this note because it’s “good manners,” and I wouldn’t care to be over-coffee fodder for you and that busybody bitch up the street for the next two months. That’s also why I haven’t proposed we cease exchanging $20 boxes of crap altogether.
A person you know with whom you exchange gifts,
If you’re reading this and have been disappointed since 1986 or so (about the time my mother quit making me write them) because you think I should have written you a thank-you note, don’t feel bad. Nobody else got one either. Also, find something else to worry about.
And no, I’m not an ungracious snot. (Well, I’m not ungracious.) I consistently thank people. But I do refuse to imbue a silly, redundant piece of stationery with the ability to determine the level of refinement, nay, even the character, of the person sending it (or not sending it).