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October 5, 2003

Things They Didn't Teach Me, #452341

Posted by Mike on October 5, 2003 6:59 PM

How to Write a Thank-You Note explains its subject in clear, lucid, and no-nonsense terms. Advice like

"Beware the just writing trap. You are not 'just writing to say as in I am just writing to say; thatís stating the obvious. If the giver is reading, clearly you have already written. Therefore use the present-perfect tense, which essentially means write as if whatever you say is happening in the moment."

tickles the part of me that wants to be The Economical Writer and comes off like gold tablets from on high at the same time.

It probably seems like common sense to everyone else, but I'll be damned if I ever had that sort of thing explained to me. I wasn't raised by wolves, exactly . . . I just don't think I ever got the block of instruction on how to say "thank you" without feeling like I was either being too simple about it (and offending people by seemingly undervaluing their generosity), or too effusive (which I assume would make people as uncomfortable as effusiveness does me).

And while I'm on this, I'll confess to thank-you notes just being one of a hundred things I go around convinced everyone but me is doing. I had this conversation with pk a few months back when we got around to swapping birthday info. I told him I'm certain there's a huge community of social corresponders passing around friendly cards and notes on a daily basis, living gracious lives of simple courtesy and quiet bonhomie. I think part of that conviction comes from the trauma of living in a small, southern East Coast town for a few years where it was hard to go a day without hearing a lamentation on someone else's lack of social graces from one of the young professionals I worked with.

It never occurred to me, as these things never seem to, that all the complaining should have been taken as a sign that everyone around me was messing up, too. :mefi: