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Illustration by Charles Dana Gibson

Illustration by Charles Dana Gibson

This is by way of being a poll.  What I want to know is this: how important in this digital age is the hand-written thank-you note?

My mother taught us always, always, always to write a thank-you note, as soon as possible, for any gift we received.  In fact when we were young and given toys, we weren’t allowed to play with them until the thank-you had been written and approved.  They didn’t have to be fancy.  Here’s an example of a perfectly acceptable thank-you note from those days.

Dear Nana,
Thank you very much for the teddy.  I like it very much.  I have named it Nice.

That sort of brevity didn’t pass muster as we got older; on the other hand no one was checking over our thank-you’s when we were in high school.  By then we were so well trained no one had to!

Customs of saying thank you differ a lot from country to country.  Here in the States it is customary to call the hostess a day or two after a dinner party and tell her again what a marvelous time you had and how good the food was, how remarkable the other guests.  In Italy that doesn’t happen.  People come, they have a marvelous time, eat great food in exceptional company, say thank you and go home, and that’s enough (although I’ve noticed a creeping post-event thank-you trend amongst friends who have spent time in other countries).

So my question is, are written thank-you’s, birthday cards and so forth out of date and hopelessly old-fashioned now that we can dash off a heart-felt e-mail and subscribe to clever e-card sites?  Please tell me!  We sent out e-Christmas cards this year (again) and I’m feeling a little squirrely about it.  I enjoy so much receiving actual Christmas and birthday cards from other people (any greeting is always welcome).  But I don’t feel the same way about thank-you notes.  Somehow to me  e-mail seems quite a sufficient medium for gratefulness. I’d certainly like to know what you all think about it though (if you think of it at all), and if you tell me… I’ll thank you.

quill pen