I don’t like them, but I’ve gotten used to our era of E-mail party invitations and even some E-mail birthday cards. But today, my daughter and I got our first ever E-mail thank you note following a recent birthday party for one of her six-year-old friends. The note, sent to a group list, said that the birthday girl loved all her presents and wanted to thank us by E-mail.
Where is Miss Manners when you need her?
Granted, the mom who sent this electronic message has six children, so I know she’s a busy woman and I can’t even to begin to imagine what short-cuts I would take if I had that many kids. But there are ways around the E-mail route to be efficient and that would send the right social message, both to the gift-giver and the recipient. For example, we got another note today that was pre-printed that said ‘thank you’ for another birthday gift. Was that any better? I think so, because it actually required some effort by the birthday girl in acknowledging her birthday loot, by writing each person’s name and signing her own. She had to go through the act of recognizing in a tangible way the person and the gift. I’ve seen others that said a generic thank you, but they were hand-drawn by the receiver of the gifts and then color-copied by one of the parents at Kinko’s.
We spend so much time drilling our kids in face-to-face manners, why miss the opportunity to have them at least minimially personalize a thank you to their friends? The message this mom sent today to her daughter was, if you’re too busy, it’s OK to have someone else send an impersonal ‘thank you’ on your behalf.
I can appreciate the desire to take care of the thank you’s that way, but it’s a slippery slope when we start deciding we can spare our children lessons in the most fundamental of social graces. All we’re doing is sending a big signal that it’s acceptable to let social constructs slide if you’re under the gun. And that’s a bad idea to plant in the heads of kindergartners who are just starting to understand the importance of manners, because if we don’t, they’ll only turn into inconsiderate adults.