My Mother & The Thank You Note Saga

thank-you-road-signHave you written all your holiday thank you notes yet? Well, according to my mother you better get on it. In fact, she would say you are coming awfully close to committing good manners suicide. Hello – Christmas was almost a month ago.

I can’t be the only one with a mother who is very passionate, some might say hard core, others crazy about the thank you note. In fact, I think if you have a mom who hails from the south you were probably raised with what I call the “thank you note threatdown.” This is when you get informed about a whole list of dire punishments coming your way if you don’t get your thank you’s done.

You see for my mother the thank you note is more than a letter of gratitude. It’s a definitive statement on your upbringing. A mediocre thank you note means many things about your family and none of it good.

My mother would say the top three things a so so thank you note indicates are:

1) You lack decent home training. This means your parents failed in their responsibility to teach you the most common of courtesies. It also means (according to my mom) you were probably raised that drinking beer out of can is acceptable, napkins are optional, RSVP means just show up if you feel like it and flip-flops at a wedding are “cute.”

2) Your character is flawed. If you never learned to write an adequate thank you note then it’s a good guess you’re probably going to serve time, at the very least, in the country jail if not the state penitentiary.

3) Your family tree is suspect and inbreeding is a distinct possibility. I’ll never forget the time my mother received what she thought was a sub standard thank you note for a wedding present and her comment was “Well, you know that family has some cousins who married each other so that explains a lot.”

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The preprinted wedding thank you note that’s guaranteed to send my mother into some sort of etiquette seizure.

I’m not exaggerating one bit when I tell you that my mother and her friends discuss the quality of the thank you notes they receive from the stationery (FYI do not use a card that has “thank you for the wedding gift” pre printed on it. It could send any woman over 75 into cardiac arrest) to the penmanship. (Cursive lives my friend and it’s home is the thank you note.)

About now you might be wondering what my mother considers a decent thank you note. Let’s just say it’s not for slackers. To begin with an acceptable thank you note is four paragraphs. The first one is for thanking the giver only. It’s considered tacky to mention the gift in the first paragraph. You must build up to the gift. My mother believes the gift is secondary. What the note is really doing is acknowledging the givers thoughtfulness in thinking of you.

The second paragraph is where it’s okay to express your gratitude for the gift and how much you will enjoy using it etc. The third paragraph is where you share a unique tidbit about how much the gift giver means to you and the fourth and final (thank God) paragraph is where you wrap it all and do another “thanks again” shout out.

But wait, there’s more. Those thank you notes have to be written in a timely manner. You don’t get married and think you have months to get that chore done. Oh no, gift gets opened thank you note gets written. After I got married my mother used to call me at work everyday and badger me on the status of my thank you’s. My co-workers didn’t believe my “sweet” mother could be that big of an etiquette bully, so one day I put her on speaker phone and I had colleagues stunned and speechless. You don’t mess with Texas or my mom.

All of this has made me a nervous wreck when my children write their Christmas thank you notes to my parents. I don’t know where I went wrong, but for the life of me they can’t get the hang of the four paragraphs. They want to “21st century it” and go four sentences. No, no and no! This is our family legacy on the line. I will not be the one that lowers the standard. I fear a four-sentence thank you is the gateway drug to a total abandonment of any and all social graces. What’s next texting a smiley face emoji as your expression of gratitude?

As I’m stressing out my son looks up at me and says, “Relax Mom. It’s just a thank you note not the Magna Carta.”

What he doesn’t understand, and perhaps never will, is that for my mother this is her Magna Carta. A well-written thank you note is her way of letting the world know she’s doing her part to make sure manners still matter.

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Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.