all the questions submitted by my Modern
Manners column readers, one of the most frequently asked involves the
ever-changing but (thankfully) undying art of the thank-you note. When is it
necessary? When is it too late to send one? Is an email thank-you okay? The
list goes on and on, but I have my own thank-you note pet peeve that I have yet
to hear from one of my readers, so I thought I'd share it here:
drives me absolutely crazy when I send a gift to a male friend, relative, or
colleague (for an engagement, wedding, or baby arrival), only to receive a
thank-you note from the wife (or
fiancé, in the case of engagement presents). Often, this is a woman I don't
even know, or know very peripherally. Now, this might sound ungrateful or
nit-picky of me, given that these poor women have taken the time and effort to
sit down and handwrite a thank-you note to a near-stranger, but to me the
larger issue is this: We don't expect men to write thank-you notes.
Now, of course, I get it. I live with a man who would rather change the entire plumbing of
our kitchen sink's filtration system than sit down and write thank-you notes.
And yes, I have broken down and written thank-you notes to his friends and relatives,
but I always insist—beg, bribe, cajole, plead—with him to add his own handwritten
two cents to the note and sign his own name.
I brought this up with a friend who always
writes thank-you notes for her husband, she laughed, saying, "If I didn't
write those thank-you notes, they'd never get sent, and isn't that ruder?"
She has a point, of course. My outrage about the injustice of women bearing the
brunt of thank-you-note writing is matched only by my belief that it's gracious
and important to send thank-you notes in a timely manner.
So what's a modern woman to do? Leave gifts
unacknowledged, or give in and write all our mates' thank-you notes? Or do we
just need to raise our boys to understand that thank-you note writing is just
as much their responsibility as saying "please" and
"thank you"? I just gave my son a whole spiel about this very
topic, trying to do my part to change what I see as a serious societal problem.
He's only four months old, but I figure it's never too soon to start.
do you think?