When I was growing up in Georgia, we sent thank you cards
and notes for just about anything and everything that you can think of to send
one. It did not matter if the gift was small or large. It could be a toy, a pie
or a covered dish, but a thank you card always went to the giver. AND, in a
“reasonable” amount of time.
I remember many times after birthday parties when my mom made me sit down and write a thank you card to each person that came to the party. I was and still am a terrible speller! Back then, we sent them by US mail and were forever searching for addresses of party attendees. I would often try to tell my mom that my friends did not care about thank you cards.
This fell on deaf ears, to say the least. She would simply state that it is good manners. If I pushed too much more, she would “tear my butt up.” (That is a spanking, for those of you that are not from the South)
When mom would strike, she could reach the top of my thigh with the open palm of her hand from across a room. It would land on the bare skin of my thigh and in 2 seconds my leg would be on fire! Back then before “politically correct” bull crap, you could openly spank your kids in the middle of a Red Lobster. If my mom’s hand got tired, other parents would line up to help finish the spanking! Try that shit today and DFACS will be at your table before your check comes! I do not think that they even had a DFACS back then! In the South, we took care of all our own business our way!
Back to the story.
Then, I would have to write the thank you cards with a sore butt, weepy eyes and a quivering lip. This makes it significantly more difficult to concentrate.
The only exceptions to this rule are Christmas gifts and food/gifts brought at funerals.
My mom would sit me down at the table and pull out the list of gifts and who gave the gift. She required that I mention the gift to each person in the card. This is Southern etiquette and is not to be trifled with, ever. Mom would help me with spelling the words as I had never been a good speller. (I was 30 before I could spell lettuce, true fact. Is it correct spelling? I am never quit sure.)
I tried to tell my mother that I should not have to send a thank you card if I did not like the gift or the gift was stupid, like a book. This just pissed her off two-fold.
First, mom explained that the person giving the gift had “gone to all the trouble” to buy me a gift and that I should be grateful. Mom reminded me how many times we had to troop out to the toy store to try and figure out a present for other kids for their parties. There were no such things as “gift cards or gift receipts” at that time. Translation, if the gift sucked, the kid was stuck with it!
Second, she lectured me about the importance of books, reading, education and blah blah blah. I cannot remember the last part because she lost me at “education.”
So, for the next week we had to hunt, borrow and beg to get addresses for people in order to send these dang cards.
I remember sitting at the table with a stack of thank you cards wondering if the presents were worth all of this aggregation. As a kid, I thought your birthday was the one day of the year that you did not have to do anything for anyone else on this one day! Wasn’t this just a waste of paper anyway? Do people actually read these dumb cards? They already know what gift they gave you.
I continued to finish my cards in a deep, listless funk with these lingering thoughts. Is Kelly spelled with an “ie” or “y”? Why can I not find the zip code for the address? Do I have enough stamps? Why does the ink keep smearing on this shiny paper just because my sweaty hand was resting on my writing? Why do I have to send Johnny a card as he always torments me at school? I did not want to invite him anyway, but mom made me. Maybe mom could write his thank you card? Do I have to comment on whether or not I liked the present, especially the gifts that sucked, like books? Do I have to sign the card “Love, Laura”? Could I give back the presents I do not like so I do not have to write a thank you card? Is there any possibility of sending a group card, so I only have to send one card?
So, I trudge through my ongoing card misery and complete my mother’s thank you card mission. I just kept thinking how thankful I was that I only had to do this once a year!
Fast forward 40 years. I now always send a thank you card. It could be for helping me complete a project, a gift or bringing a covered dish. As an adult, I realized the importance of thanking someone for their thoughtfulness. More than ever, we need to show our appreciation of one another.
I have noticed since the advent of all this technology and social media, we have lost the “personal touch.” Not to get on my soap box, but just for a minute. I see people using social media to vent their thoughts. However, these thoughts may be offensive and downright aggressive. Most people would not say these comments directly to a person’s face, so why write it on social media for the whole word to see?
I myself use social media to publish my blog and interact with others online. I try to be mindful of what I write when I do this or post comments. Remember when you write “angry” words, you are sending a “ripple” of negativity that you cannot control, once sent.
Southern women pride themselves on good manners. So, the next time you think of sending a thank you card, remember to actually do it. It means more than you know. This may require you to go to the store and actually purchase a paper card to mail.
By the way, an email or text message is not a thank you card. It just shows that you are lazy and did not want to bother with a real “thank you.” I’m just sayin’. Besides, my mom would come after you for a good ole’ fashion butt whippin’ if you do not send a “real” card.