Author Topic: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes  (Read 3964 times)

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gellchom

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2013, 05:32:41 PM »
I do agree that presents are perhaps not the thrill they once were, now that possessions are so much easier to accumulate and that so many holidays and occasions have turned into gift-giving moments.

But I fail to see the connection to thank you notes.

I can understand a drop in ENTHUSIASM for writing them in light of the above.  But I cannot imagine that the givers are any less entitled to or pleased by expressions of gratitude.

I don't believe for an instant that people who ask "Is this the new style?" or say "I guess I'm hopelessly old-fashioned" or whatever really mean it.  They know perfectly well that the rules regarding thank you notes haven't changed a bit.  They're just commenting on the rudeness of the recipients who couldn't be bothered even to call or email or text a quick message of thanks.

And I do think it is rudeness, not a matter of changing communications technology.  Many people, probably most, write fewer pen-and-ink letters than they used to.  But we send a lot more notes, whether emails, facebook messages, texts, tweets, and so forth.  Many, many more.  So there is no excuse not to make one of those messages to Aunt Tina thanking her for the gift.  Sure, a written note is best, but an email or something suffices for most informal thank yous (NOT wedding gifts).

TootsNYC

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2013, 05:49:59 PM »
The thing is, people have been neglecting to send thank-you notes for eons.

Roe

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2013, 06:05:26 PM »
I didn't grow up writing thank you notes.  Instead, we either hugged the gift-giver right then and there or called them up to say thank you.  I'd much rather have a personal interaction than more clutter like a card I feel I have to keep.  But I realize I'm in the minority. 

Mental Magpie

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2013, 06:26:48 PM »
I didn't grow up writing thank you notes.  Instead, we either hugged the gift-giver right then and there or called them up to say thank you.  I'd much rather have a personal interaction than more clutter like a card I feel I have to keep.  But I realize I'm in the minority.

This.

I get something from someone, I call immediately to express my gratitude.  I also extend the call to "let's catch up a little" if time permits.  While many things can be expressed really, really well in writing, I don't think words can quite capture the sound in someone's voice of them smiling.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

blarg314

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2013, 08:25:05 PM »

I think she had a very good point about gift giving in general.

When I was a kid, 30 years ago, we generally got new toys for Christmas and birthdays.  That $10 cheque from my grandparents (which at the time would by 1.5 paperbacks) was appreciated, because I didn't get much spending money.

Now, though, I have trouble buying gifts for my nieces and nephews. In one family's case, they simply already have way too much stuff, to the point that their house is uncomfortably stuffed with things and a claustrophobic mess as a result. So I actually feel bad giving things that are just going to get lost in the piles of toys and cute clothes and books and electronics and games and craft supplies. In the other family, they're much better off than I am, financially, so they can go out and buy what they want or need, at least when it concerns anything I could give them.

Part of this is a change in the definition of what's considered a normal amount of stuff, part of it is that I grew up in a one income household, and both of theirs are dual income, so there's a lot more disposable income.

We've certainly seen enough posts on this forum where *receiving* gifts is a burden and a nuisance. Grandparents who insist on buying bucket loads of toys that the parents don't have room for. Relatives who gift dollar store junk that breaks immediately. Gift certificates for stores you don't have access to or that don't sell stuff you use, or certificates that only cover part of a purchase and require an outlay of cash. People who give stuff that's the wrong size, or a style you'd never wear, or you already own. Work exchanges that result in yet another coffee cup or bath products you're allergic to. Gifts given because it's something the giver thinks you should want based on their own prejudices. Gifts that come with strings, or are intended to manipulate you.

jaxsue

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2013, 02:15:16 PM »
Agreed.  I would have been happy with any acknowledgement from my niece, just to know that her son got the package.  Nuthin'.  Like throwing it into a black hole, except the black hole would have spit out a few gamma rays.

Same thing happens with my nieces/nephews. My nephew became a father a few months ago. I sent him some adorable baby clothes with the college sports team colors/insignias. It wasn't cheap! But the price doesn't matter. I heard nothing. Even when I visited them a few weeks after Edwin was born (he is so cute!), still nothing. It's quite normal among all the nephews/nieces now (I have 16 on my side), and it's sad. I was the fun aunt who sent goody packages for every holiday or just whatever. I had to stop due to finances, but the fact that my generosity seemed to be assumed was also a reason.

I'm quite okay with a verbal or written TY, as in FB or an email. But even that seems to be too difficult for people to manage. I agree that "too much stuff" and too many gift-giving occasions may be partly to blame.

And, FTR, all 6 of us siblings were taught to write TY notes for even the smallest gifts. I taught my boys as well. My mom has told me that my kids are the only ones who do it now. How sad.  :-\

jaxsue

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #21 on: June 29, 2013, 02:17:11 PM »
I didn't grow up writing thank you notes.  Instead, we either hugged the gift-giver right then and there or called them up to say thank you.  I'd much rather have a personal interaction than more clutter like a card I feel I have to keep.  But I realize I'm in the minority.

I like TY notes, but a TY in person is just fine with me. What isn't fine with me is the lack of any acknowledgement. The way you do it is very acceptable.

kareng57

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2013, 12:05:54 AM »
I didn't grow up writing thank you notes.  Instead, we either hugged the gift-giver right then and there or called them up to say thank you.  I'd much rather have a personal interaction than more clutter like a card I feel I have to keep.  But I realize I'm in the minority.

And I think it's been said before - to some extent, this is regional.  For example, IME, when then gift-giver is right there, then you give him/her a sincere thank-you and that's fine.  Or, you call the giver with a genuine thank-you (not a voicemail message).  But I do realize that in some regions a written TY note is required even as a follow-up to an oral TY.  So, I'm not clear as to whether the complaint is no TY at all, or no written TY note even when a verbal TY has been given.

But - I'm referring to less-formal occasions such as birthdays.  For more formal occasions such as weddings - yes, written TY notes are required.

Marbles

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2013, 05:06:03 AM »
I didn't grow up writing thank you notes.  Instead, we either hugged the gift-giver right then and there or called them up to say thank you.  I'd much rather have a personal interaction than more clutter like a card I feel I have to keep.  But I realize I'm in the minority.

I like TY notes, but a TY in person is just fine with me. What isn't fine with me is the lack of any acknowledgement. The way you do it is very acceptable.

Indeed. A timely thank you is all I ask for. In written form is just a bonus.

TootsNYC

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2013, 10:20:50 AM »
I didn't grow up writing thank you notes.  Instead, we either hugged the gift-giver right then and there or called them up to say thank you.  I'd much rather have a personal interaction than more clutter like a card I feel I have to keep.  But I realize I'm in the minority.

And I think it's been said before - to some extent, this is regional.  For example, IME, when then gift-giver is right there, then you give him/her a sincere thank-you and that's fine.  Or, you call the giver with a genuine thank-you (not a voicemail message).  But I do realize that in some regions a written TY note is required even as a follow-up to an oral TY.  So, I'm not clear as to whether the complaint is no TY at all, or no written TY note even when a verbal TY has been given.

But - I'm referring to less-formal occasions such as birthdays.  For more formal occasions such as weddings - yes, written TY notes are required.

If by "region" you mean "certain social or familial circles," then yes.

But not if you mean "geographic region" or "size of community, i.e. country/smalltown/city."

gellchom

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2013, 03:24:31 PM »
I agree, in-person thanks usually obviate the need for a written or even phoned or emailed thank you note (wedding gifts are among the exceptions).  Often even nicer. 

That's not really the OP's point, though, I think.  What constitutes appropriate form for thanking someone for a gift varies with many circumstances.  But we all know when it falls way short of the minimum and how ungrateful and lazy that seems.  Anyway, I don't think that "gift fatigue" changes anything.  No matter how over gifted you feel, you express gratitude in some form -- just as we've always done for gifts that missed the mark for other reasons. 

I'm sorry to hear anyone considers a nice handwritten letter "clutter," and I don't understand why they'd feel obligated to save it. 

Roe

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2013, 10:21:08 PM »

I'm sorry to hear anyone considers a nice handwritten letter "clutter," and I don't understand why they'd feel obligated to save it.

Like I said, I wasn't raised writing thank you notes so I don't see them as "required."  To me, they are clutter.  No need to be sorry about that, that's just how I see it.  That's not bad nor good, it just is how I see it.  If I were to get one from someone close, I would feel an obligation to keep it as I feel that sense of obligation when I receive other types of cards.  I just can't seem to throw them out.  Obviously you don't have that sense of obligation, that's not a bad thing either.  We just see things differently. 


kareng57

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2013, 11:35:57 PM »
I didn't grow up writing thank you notes.  Instead, we either hugged the gift-giver right then and there or called them up to say thank you.  I'd much rather have a personal interaction than more clutter like a card I feel I have to keep.  But I realize I'm in the minority.

And I think it's been said before - to some extent, this is regional.  For example, IME, when then gift-giver is right there, then you give him/her a sincere thank-you and that's fine.  Or, you call the giver with a genuine thank-you (not a voicemail message).  But I do realize that in some regions a written TY note is required even as a follow-up to an oral TY.  So, I'm not clear as to whether the complaint is no TY at all, or no written TY note even when a verbal TY has been given.

But - I'm referring to less-formal occasions such as birthdays.  For more formal occasions such as weddings - yes, written TY notes are required.

If by "region" you mean "certain social or familial circles," then yes.

But not if you mean "geographic region" or "size of community, i.e. country/smalltown/city."


But I still don't think that there are any clear-cut answers.  For example, in a previous post, someone asserted that, at bridal showers, there would be so many guests that it would be nearly impossible to give a personal thanks to everyone.

IME, showers are given at the hostess's home, so there are usually not more than about 15 guests.  So there is ample opportunity for the bride to give personal thanks to everyone who attended.  (For anyone who could not attend but sent a gift - of course it's a given than a written thank-you is mandatory).

It's only in the last few years that I learned that, in some circles, showers with 70+ guests are the norm.  In that case, of course it might not be possible for the bride to personally thank everyone, and therefore TY notes might be required.

But I don't have much personal experience, it's true.  Dh and I had both lived independently before marriage and already had most basic household needs, therefore I politely discouraged people who wanted to give showers.

TootsNYC

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #28 on: July 01, 2013, 11:32:17 AM »
Karen, you make an interesting point about baby showers.

And in fact, Emily Post agrees with you--that there aren't clear-cut answers.

in the version I used to have on my desk, her chart about when thank-you notes are required, "baby showers" had a "maybe."

It always seems to me that if you've had a long conversation with the giver about the pretty sweater she knitted, etc., a thank-you note is really hard to write. What am I going to say that I didn't say in person? My *own* reaction is that writing (or getting) a stilted thank-you note sort of devalues the present (suddenly it feels like an invoice/payment thing*) and _definitely_ devalues the conversation and thanks that were expressed in person.

I married into a family w/ HUGE showers, and so it's just not possible to have that level of conversation with everybody. And there's no way I'd send a TYnote to some people and not others--they all compare notes!!

But if someone were asking me for advice, I'd tell them to send a thank-you note for a baby-shower present *every* time, no matter how personal their baby/bridal shower, because people get picky about them, whereas they don't about some other presents given in person (Christmas presents, birthday presents etc.)



*this invoice/payment feeling only occurs in those situations; it's my personal reaction, and it doesn't kick in if I wasn't there to be part of any conversation--then the TYnote feels like a simple thanks/acknowledgment. It's the "put it in writing" part that hits an unfortunate note _to me_. And I'd never assign blame to the person who is going through the formalities--it would just feel a bit sad somehow, to become a formality.

lowspark

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Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #29 on: July 01, 2013, 12:20:47 PM »
Quote
I'd tell them to send a thank-you note for a baby-shower present *every* time, no matter how personal their baby/bridal shower, because people get picky about them

I agree with this. Every baby shower (and for that matter, bridal shower too) I've been to has gone about like this: The GOH opens each gift, looks around for where the giver is, and gives a quick Thank You/acknowledgement and moves on to the next gift. Unless a prticular gift is something really out of the ordinary, there's usually about the same amount of gushing on the part of the GOH for each gift. It's sort of the nature of the kind of party.

So yeah, guests are getting an "in-person" thank you, but really, it's a sort of generic thank you, not anything really personal or one-on-one. Because of this I think a thank you note is pretty much required because to me, it sort of says, hey, after I got home and was able to give your gift the personal attention it deserves and I wanted to make sure to tell you how much I appreciate it.

I'm of the mind that it's better to go ahead and send a TY note even if the gift giver wasn't expecting one, than to not give one if the giver was expecting one.