I hope you’ve all been having a happy holiday season! Did Santa leave anything special for you or your children underneath the Christmas tree? Levi was fortunate to receive some additional Chanukah presents from family and friends while we were traveling last week. (Psst…Did you even notice I was gone?)
Now that we’re home and settled, it’s time to go through the mail that accumulated in our absence and thank anyone who sent us or Levi a gift. I’ve always wondered whether it really matters if “thank you” is said over the phone or in a card, so I asked two experts for their opinions.
First I turned to Chandra Greer, owner of the Chicago stationery shop, Greer. Since Chandra sells paper and pens (among other things), I had a feeling she would tell me that sending a thank you card is what’s appropriate, but I was curious as to why. She directed me to an interview she did with Dwell, in which she said, “Any gift requires time, thought and resources and should be responded to with something that at least approximates the effort that gift represents.”
William Hanson, an etiquette expert based in the UK (where they know a thing or two about being proper!), agreed that sending thank you cards is an essential post-Christmas activity. He suggests young children sign their name to a sentence written by a parent until they are old enough to write a simple sentence or two, around the age of five. Older children can write longer letters.
And what if they object to writing a thank you card? “As a child I was always told that if I stopped writing letters people would no longer want to send me presents,” said William. “I was a very materialistic child so I made sure I wrote my letters very soon after Christmas!”
Before our trip, I wrote a thank you card on behalf of Levi and mailed it to a friend who bought him a Chanukah gift. She sent us an email while we were away asking if Levi liked his present. Since we knew that Levi’s thank you was due to arrive in her mailbox any day, neither JB nor I responded. Imagine how embarrassed we both felt upon learning last night that she never received the thank you card! We tried to do the proper thing, but the postal service ended up making us look ungrateful. Fail, USPS!
A situation like that makes me wonder if a simple phone call (or even email) to say thanks makes more sense in today’s world of instant gratification…but then I remember how little time I have to chat on the phone. In fact, I took me over a week to find a quiet moment to call my aunt and uncle and thank them for their Chanukah gift. I intended to call in the evening when they would both be home from work, but nights are always hectic in our house and time just got away from me.
When I finally did call, I got their answering machine. And when they called me back the next day, they got mine. Perhaps I should have just written a thank you card!