Thank You Note Guilt

Over the years, we’ve addressed many different forms of guilt on this blog: travel guilt, enjoying-our-work guilt, formula/breastfeeding guilt, pet guilt, extracurricular activity guilt — we could go on and on. Well, I’ve got a new one to add to the list: thank you note guilt.

I am all in favor of good manners. They are what separate us from the apes (and rude people). And once upon a time (pre-kids), I was actually pretty diligent and punctual about sending a thoughtful, handwritten note to people when they gave me gifts, did me favors, etc. Miss Manners would’ve approved.

Now, I am the worst thank you note offender of all time. I suck. I don’t think I’ve sent one since I got pregnant last fall. (If I did, I honestly can’t recall.) Miss Manners would blacklist me for sure (in the most polite way, of course).

I keep meaning to write them. Honestly I do. For the kids’ gifts, for my own, hell, even for my husband’s (I’m ashamed to admit I used to write them for him, too). I know it’s so terribly rude not to gratefully acknowledge all those lovely gestures. But “write thank you notes” just keeps slipping down on my to-do list, as things like “get freelance clients to make money” and “feed the baby” rise to the top.

Ugh. I’m so overwhelmed by the many, many notes I should have written at this point, I don’t even know where to start. So instead, I’m writing about it here. What should I do? Is there a presidential pardon for this kind of transgression? Help!

10 thoughts on “Thank You Note Guilt

  1. Jensational says:

    To be honest usually when I send someone a gift I want to know two things 1) that they received it and 2) that they enjoyed it. Any way that I find the answer to either of those is fine with me whether it's a phone call or an e-mail.

  2. I'm bad about it, too. I try and often succeed at getting them out, but sometimes… ugh. It's tough!

  3. I totally agree with Jensational. An e-mail or Facebook note suffices. When I send a gift, as an added "bonus gift" I am often tempted to add a note saying "does not require a thank you note", but I don't want to sound assuming that said gift might require one in the first place. I just know how often I end up putting them off, and people who don't, frankly, annoy me.

  4. MarcomMom says:

    I think most people understand working moms are crazy-busy. But the one that any of us finds time to send will make the recipient feel appreciated and respected.

  5. Marketing Mommy says:

    As a giver who, like Jensational, also wants to know a gift was received and appreciated, I say it's never too late to send a thank you note, even if it is via email.

    One way I keep on top of the thank you note madness is by keeping a list of gifts and their givers in a prominent place–it taunts me until all notes are written.

  6. Thanks to all for your thoughts. I am considering writing a mea-culpa general thank you (to cover pretty much all of 2009) after the holidays and "starting fresh" for the New Year. Better than nothing, right?

  7. Grateful Twin Mom says:

    I am weeks behind on my kids' birthday party thank you notes. I finally sat down to print the generic Word version the other day, and my printer ran out of ink. Naturally. I want to teach my children the importance of gratitude, and having them sign thank you notes to their friends seems like the best way to do this, but we'll just have to turn around again and do it after Christmas too. I think, like many comments have said, if you let the giver know how much you appreciated the gesture, any way you can, you're set. No guilt..

  8. I'm glad I'm not the only offender of this terrible transgression. I have terrible thank you note guilt from my daughter's 1st birthday party which was oooooooh, 10 months ago. But writing them kept falling down the list of things to do and now here I am the rudest of all friends. Sigh. Maybe I'll make it my NYE resolution or something. : )

  9. Although this post was a while ago, I have to comment. My daughter is almost 8 months old, and I still haven't finished all the thank you notes. It makes me crazy and gives me so much anxiety, that I push it even farther down the list of to-dos! My mother – queen of manners – once said it was a barbaric custom to expect new mothers to write notes when they barely have time to sleep/shower most days.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I agree, e-mail is fine for thank you notes but I was so touched by a friend that sent me a handwritten note recently after I took her out to lunch that I wanted to frame it.

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