Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Handwritten Notes

I love thank you cards, but I have to say, I’m not always great about sending them out. When I got married to EN I read that it was proper etiquette to send them out within three months. So you bet your ass I sent them out over the three month period. I look back on that and I am so ashamed.

When I was pregnant with Sugar, I just started doing them every time I got a gift. I was on bed rest right after my work shower, so those went out quickly. I was in the hospital having her when my friends and family shower was going on, so I did those as soon as we came home from the hospital. I still think that since EN was there playing “mommy,” he should have had to write them out. Every thank you card for gifts and flowers celebrating her birth was sent out within a week. I wanted those to be out before I sent out her birth announcements. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know either.

When I had Spice, I did the same thing. I sent them out immediately, so I never had a big pile to do. And really, those little babies sure slept a lot so I had time to do them. Hey Freaky Ice Princess, you should have been NAPPING!

For the most part, I only send a handwritten thank you card for big occasions like weddings and babies. I’ve tried to be very diligent about having the girls write thank you cards for everything. I know they are delighted to receive mail and I’m sure their friends are too. It’s generally a painless process. Sugar is old enough now to write everything she wants to say and be done with it. Spice either copies what I write, or just signs what I write, and even if she didn’t, I’m not sure I’d trust her enough to send them out without reading them first.

I’ve never acknowledged a Christmas gift with a handwritten thank you, but I always try to remember to email, text or Facebook a little note. Are you supposed to send thank you’s for Christmas gifts? I’ve never gotten one, so I assume not.

Someone that I worked with years ago has been rehired by my company. He lives in upstate New York and spends much of his time on the road. Someone had introduced me to a regional food item from that area years ago, so I mentioned it to Tom when I saw him earlier in the summer. They are called salt potatoes. They are teensy little red potatoes that you boil in salt water, then dip in butter and eat. I don’t know why we can’t get them here, and I don’t know why our red potatoes don’t taste quite as good… But you really can only get this treat from NY. These yummy bits of goodness were sent right down from Heaven, no lie.

I guess he was so amused by my love for those stupid potatoes that he told his mom about it. I’m guessing his mother is in her late 70s or so. She apparently told him, “Well, if you are going to bring her some there’s only one kind to get. So she went to the farmers’ market and bought a bag to give to Tom the next time he was coming to the office.

When he told me the story about his mom and gave me the potatoes, I asked for her address and said I would send her some candies that are made locally. I’m sure he thought I was talking out my ass, but gave me the address anyway. Anyone that knows me, knows I get around to doing nice shit every six months or so. Not this time.

I bought the candy, wrote out a little card and shipped it to her. I emailed Tom to let him know that he should tell his mom a package was coming. He said he thought the surprise would be more fun for her. He called me on Tuesday to let me know that she had received the package. I guess she didn’t open it at first and had a long discussion with her best friend about what to do. The return address was the name of the company her son works for, perhaps the package was intended for him? So the two of them sat there and shook the package a bit. Finally her friend convinced her to open the box. If it was really intended for Tom, they could just call him to get whatever was inside.

Tom said she was delighted with the candy and now has a great story to tell all her friends, the women she’s been friends with for 50+ years! She liked the candy ok and said they are so rich that the bag will last her a long time. But what she loved the most was the card. It was a simple card, maybe a paragraph for two. I basically just thanked her for the potatoes and told her that I wanted to send her a regional treat in return. For $10 and less than ten minutes writing time, I gave this woman a little bit of unexpected sunshine and a few truffles.

I’m reminded of my German grandmother… whose birthday is this week. Had she still been alive she’d be 108 this year. That woman loved a thank you card like nobody else. We could stretch holidays to last until the next one came around. It worked like this: receive gift and send thank you note. She would be so pleased by the gesture, she’d return the thank you note with one of her own… with $5 inside. Therefore we’d have to send her another card to thank her for the money. A vicious circle that kept us in “pin money” year round.

The next time you have the opportunity, send a little handwritten note… maybe even for no reason at all. You’ll be glad you did. 

Ice Princess

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