Today in my mailbox, I received an envelope with a thank-you note inside. It was from Victoria, a 13-year-old girl whose mother won a pair of Hannah Montana tickets from me a few days ago. The note was a folded piece of paper with the words “thank you so much” written on the outside and again on the inside, along with Victoria’s name, all in her own handwriting.
As soon as I saw it, I knew that her mother, Lori, had told Victoria to send it to me. If she’s anything like my wife, Lori is very good about the whole thank-you note thing. If her husband is anything like me, it would never have occurred to him in the first place.
Like most men, I just don’t think that way. It doesn’t matter how many times my wife tells me what the proper etiquette is for thanking someone for a gift, I’ll never remember because it’s not in my genes. Oh, I’ll thank you next time we talk on the phone, or I’ll drop you a quick e-mail (thus horrifying my wife), and I do appreciate whatever you got or did for me, but it’s unlikely I’ll express it in writing and put it in the mail to you.
The entire greeting card industry is kept afloat by women like my wife and our daughter. They love cards of all kinds. When they get one, they’ll keep it on the kitchen table, or the counter, or tape it to the wall, or under a refrigerator magnet — anywhere it can remind them of the event (or relationship or whatever) for a couple of weeks. I, on the other hand, am pretty much done with the card as soon as I’ve read it. To appease my wife (and daughter), I do have a pile of cards they’ve given me through the years, but for everyone else, I appreciated the sentiment and then tossed the card away. Thank-you notes and greeting cards are temporary fixtures in men’s lives, but important memorabilia for women.
My wife keeps a stash of thank-you cards, get-well cards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, and condolence cards, ready to be sent at a moment’s notice. She even has some I-know-we-just-talked-on-the-phone-for-the-third-time-today-but-I-saw-this-and-thought-of-you cards, which she’ll send to her close friends for no reason at all.
With her stash, I’ll ask, “Hey, my brother’s birthday is next week. Do you have a card we can send him?” And she always does, which saves me a trip to the Hallmark store. The only time you’ll see me in that retail outlet is when my wife’s birthday or our anniversary is coming up, because it would just be wrong for me to ask her to give me a card to fill out to give right back to her. She expects at least some effort, and I’m there for her. If you’re not my wife, and you got a card from me, you can be sure she vetted it first.
Young girls add another element to the world of greeting cards — personal creativity. Like Victoria’s thank-you note, many of them are hand-made. Where a boy would grudgingly sign a card his mother supplied, a girl wants to make it her own. That means there must be more than just words — art must be added, on the inside, on the outside, on the envelope, etc. If you’ve ever received a birthday card from your daughter with a hand-drawn duck on it for no particular reason, you know what I mean.
All that effort may be alien to me, but it sure puts a smile on my face. Thank you, Victoria, for your thank-you card.
Now I’ll wait for my wife to give me an “I can’t believe you thanked her in your blog instead of in a more personal way” card. I’m sure she’s been saving one for just this occasion.