Do You Still Send Handwritten Thank-You Notes? If Not, You Should

This is an old-school tradition that needs to stick around for the long haul.

Thank you note
Photo: Synergee

There are several ways I likely disappoint the Southern women of my grandmother's generation: I opt for the handheld steamer instead of the hot iron; I resort to safety pin handiwork since I can't sew a button; and I've never made a pound cake. But there's one thing I do of which they'll surely approve: Send handwritten thank-you notes.

From the moment I could hold a pencil, my mom drilled into me the importance of writing thank-you notes. As a small child, I may have been tempted to think that some gifts were more worthy of a handwritten thank-you than others, but she quickly rectified that thinking: The gift itself doesn't determine whether a note is required. A handwritten thank-you is always, always necessary.

When it came to the note's contents, my mom wasn't satisfied with a simple "Thank you for the [insert gift here]. Love, Betsy" either. To make the note more personal, I needed to share at least one reason why I liked the present or explain how it would be helpful to me. And even if I didn't particularly care for a gift, she taught me, I could always express appreciation and gratitude for the giver's generosity and thoughtfulness. My mom also schooled me in the notion that handwritten thank-you notes weren't just for things. It's equally important, if not even more important, to express gratitude to people for time given or experiences shared.

Based on the responses I'll occasionally receive for my thank-you notes (shock and awe, mixed with delight), it seems that not everyone prioritizes handwritten thank-you notes these days. And that's a shame. Yes, I've resigned myself to the fact that millennials have been blamed for the death of American cheese and top sheets (two things that I, a 29-year-old, personally love), but I will not let our generation be the one that kills the handwritten thank-you note. To me, those will always be sacred.

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