- We kicked off the month with Rajiv Agarwal’s Ruly Mix and readers danced as they went about their holiday preparations.
- We reviewed “Hundred Dollar Holiday” by Bill McKibben and discussed the concept of spending less for a more joyous holiday.
- We discussed several options for homemade gifts involving more time than money, specifically crafts and food.
- We discussed options for businesses to recognize the holidays and Ruly Ruth provided tips for surviving the office holiday party.
- We received expert tips for coping with holiday stress and discussed how to cope with unexpected changes, such as the east coast blizzard.
- We discussed options for streamlining tasks like mailing holiday cards and wrapping gifts and provided a worksheet to get a headstart for 2010 holiday planning.
I am still in the midst of my 2009 holiday recovery, specifically my thank you notes. If I could have one goal for 2010 it would be to stay on top of my thank you notes. One of my great flaws as a human being is my failure to write thank you notes. There are tremendously generous people in my life who amazingly continue to do me favors and give me wonderful things despite my lack of thank yous. There are also many good examples among my friends and family who meticulously write a prompt thank you note for each gift or favor (large and small) received.
Part of my hang up about writing thank you notes is a perfectionist problem. I don’t want to write just a note acknowledging receipt, I want to write a note expressing just how fabulous I think the giver is–a note that might give them as much delight as their kindness or present gave to me. If I would just settle for less, I am sure I could get my notes out and maybe even on time. And, who knows, maybe the people who have received notes from me, don’t really find them all that more fabulous than just a few brief lines sent timely saying, “Thanks! You made my day!”
Some of the blame for this perfectionist problem, however, lies in the thank you note advice commonly perpetuated. Take this recent example from the Wall Street Journal:
“Mr. Parker usually sends his thank-you notes on four-by-six-inch cards with his name and address printed across the top. He favors heavier paper and cards with printed words that are raised . . .When writing a card, Mr. Parker eschews everyday ballpoint pens. . . He uses ink in a different color from the printed message on the card . . . Before he writes his note, he sometimes practices writing a line several times to see how it looks on paper. . . His rule of thumb: ‘The thought behind the thank-you should be equal to or greater than the thought that went into the gift.’”
–Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, “The Art of the Thank You Note,” The Wall Street Journal, December 24, 2009
I have to say that I have never taken as much care with a thank you note as Geoffrey Parker. I would never get mine out if I obsessed this much! But I can only imagine how fabulous it must be to get one of these Parker thank yous. I would probably end up framing mine.
With these high expectations for thank you notes, no wonder they can seem like such a burden to send! And, of course, the longer you wait to send the thank you, the higher the expectation becomes in your mind. At a certain point of delay, a mere thank you note no longer cuts it. A short novel describing how your life has changed from the receipt of the gift, photos and perhaps even a small gift in return seems more appropriate.
I sympathized completely with this recent posting from author/blogger Aidan Donnelley Rowley on “Pathetiquette.”
“If you are reading this and sent me a Christmas gift before 2004, I am sorry. I’m sure I liked it. Whatever it was.”
–Aidan Donnelley Rowley, “Pathetiquette” Ivy League Insecurities Blog, December 8, 2009.
While, in theory, a gift is given with nothing expected in return, it is important to say thank you. This posting on “Why do we say ‘Thank You?’ Does it Really Matter?” at MarketingProfs has some fascinating comments by marketing professionals. A few examples:
“Thank you is the most important part of any interpersonal relationship. . . . Thank you is the reason we do things. Not for money or glory. But, for the opportunity to have someone say Thank you . . . . ”
“We say thank you entirely too often on its own. To be effective – in fact, to be heard in today’s ‘thank you’ society – you must attach a situation or behavior to thanks. For instance, ‘Thank you; I appreciate your confidence in our services.’ or ‘Thank you; your research will make my report so much better.’ or ‘Thanks; this has been a great conversation. I’ll have something new to think about on my way home tonight.’
While we are on the subject of thank yous, I would like to express my sincere thank you to my readers for your faithful readership and for the excellent comments that have been coming in. Your participation adds so much value to this blog and to our collective Ruly knowledge and inspires me greatly.
Hope you have a great time ringing in 2010 and type to you on Friday! May the new decade bring only wonderful things to all of you!