I finally finished writing thank you notes for all the flowers, food, and donations to the March of Dimes and our synagogue in Natan’s memory. That task has been plaguing me for a long time. I am immensely grateful that so many people were moved to do these things for us, and I wanted to say thank you for all the expressions of love and support. I wasn’t sure how long I had to do it. I mean, I’m sure there’s no etiquette rule like for weddings and baby showers, but I just wanted it done. But what do you say? Food, flowers, and donations to our synagogue were easy to express thanks for. But the March of Dimes? “Thank you for your donation to the March of Dimes in Natan’s memory. We hope it will prevent more families from going through what we have.” I guess that’s true, but it sounds so banal, and more like a response from the organization itself than bereaved parents.

Even though it’s not relevant, I kept remembering how one relative sent us a note after our wedding, telling us, that “[insert elderly relative’s name here] hadn’t received a thank you note and was wondering if you’d gotten her gift yet.” This card was waiting for us when we got home from our honeymoon. So then when we did send the card along with the others, I felt like those family members would think we only sent a thank you card because we were prompted to do so.

Anyway, it’s probably not accurate, but for some reason every day I put off those response, I felt that relative tut-tutting over my poor manners. Old resentments die hard apparently, and pop up at uncomfortable times..


8 responses to “Finally

  1. LeRoy Dissing

    I will go out on a limb and say that men generally feel less etiquette-bound than women when it comes to thank you notes. Not that men are any less grateful for gifts just they need to prompted or cued to make the expression – or so it seems. Is my guilt showing through yet? If it feels more like an obligation or duty then I end up questioning myself how thankful I must really be…go figure.

  2. I bought special cards and had a list of exactly who to send them to, what to thank them for, etc. and I NEVER sent them.

    I felt horrible about it for a while. Then I decided to let it go.

  3. The thank you notes hung over my head for such a long time. I had no idea what to say (perhaps a small taste of what the well-meaning people I was thanking had felt when signing a card to us). Everything seemed so robotic, impersonal.

  4. I dunno. I’m probably completely etiquette-challenged, but, to me, flowers or a donation sent to or on behalf of someone in mourning are completely different than, say, a wedding present.

    I get slightly annoyed if, after a reasonable period of time, I don’t get a thank you note for a wedding or holiday present. If I’ve sent something because of a death in the family, I don’t really expect any response at all, figuring that the people have much more pressing issues to worry about.

  5. I’m sure no one _expected_ thank you notes (except for the rude relative mentioned). But all of my mom’s old friends sent donations and flowers, even two of her friends from childhood, and plenty of people from my hometown (three of my former teachers for example, who happen to be friendly with my mom). So since they reached out to us, I wanted to be sure they knew how much we appreciated it. It kind of blew our minds how many people cared enough to do that.

  6. I am glad you got such an outpouring of support during that time Sara. Connections make life worth living when it doesn’t feel like it is.

    We (my siblings and I) wrote out thank you notes right after my Dad’s funeral/burial. We did it the same day because we wanted to do it while we were together. In that situation, I think it was healing for all of us.

  7. There are emails sitting in a special folder waiting for me to answer them, hanging over my head. They are from people very far away who we used to be friendly with, but don’t see much anymore because of the distance. They are wonderful, thoughtful, warm emails. I wanted to answer them before I went back to work, but didn’t. Every week I tell myself I should do that, and every week I don’t. Maybe this week.

  8. Most people are just glad that you send them a thank you note at any time, especially after what you have been through. The relative who gave you a bad time about the so-called lateness of your wedding thank you was not thinking of you or your husband, but themselves. The only way you would have satisfied them was to have sent them a thank you note right after your wedding. For some people even that isn’t soon enough. My husband and I were told to send notes as soon as I got some of the gifts, even before the wedding ceremony.

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