The pithy, opinionated, and sometimes brutally frank Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke challenges average guys to live a life less ordinary and embrace classic style in the broadest sense. it's time to rise above the trite, the boring, the predictable, the mundane, the banal, and the commonplace. It's time to stop behaving like barnyard animals at the trough and leave behind the perpetually sloppy man-child aesthetic of the last two decades or so. It's time to learn once again how to present and conduct yourself like an adult with some grooming, finesse, and sophistication. And here is where you can learn how.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Of Thank-you Notes Past and Present. . .

The Young Master and I have had birthdays in the last couple of weeks, and today we'll sit down together to write a few thank-you notes for the cards and gifts sent to us from family members.  Both the physical notes and a couple of the cyber variety for relatives in areas of the world where the mail is unreliable.

Too many people, if and when they think about them at all, regard thank-you notes as a quaint reminder of a bygone era.  A relic of the past.  Something about as necessary in the 21st century as gloves, calling cards, and  walking sticks.  Something that is, somehow, too time consuming.  You know the old, tired refrain, "I don't have the time."  We hear this excuse used for everything from thank-you cards, to dressing presentably (not expensively or well, just presentably), to actually setting a dinner table properly and sitting down for an evening meal (without TV and I-phones mind you), to washing one's face and brushing one's hair before appearing in the morning.

My question is this.  How can you not take a few minutes from you busy schedule -- step away from the I-phone Finnegan/Connor/Logan/Kinsie/Kelsey/Kaliegh/Etc. -- to thank someone for taking the time to remember you and send you something?  How can you, in good conscience, not show a bit of consideration and common decency to others who are not required to think of you?  How can you ignore doing what is socially acceptable and correct if we get right down to it?

I once had the wife of a couple we were close to go all to pieces -- honestly -- because I sent them a brief thank-you card after we joined them for supper at their house about ten years ago after I left Minnesota and joined the Grand Duchess in Illinois during the year before we were married.  I was absolutely dumbfounded when it was later brought to my attention that "We are really good friends, so we shouldn't even have to feel like thank-you notes are necessary."  What?  WHAT??!!

Perhaps she was simply trying to mask her embarrassment, or working through her own social anxieties?  Maybe it was something else?  Who knows?  However, I remained undeterred and continued to send them brief notes of thanks each time after we joined the couple in question for evening meals and socializing.  Strangely, the gesture was never returned when we entertained them at our house.  Many, many times during a ten-year period.  As Tom Jones sang, "It's not unusual. . ."

In any case, I have continued to send brief thank-you notes -- like I was raised to do by my slightly tipsy, bridge-playing, Southern Episcopalian and Methodist forebearers -- throughout my adult life to friends, family, and mere acquaintances.  The Young Master will learn this social skill too, and hopefully it will not turn into an awkward thing for him on reaching adulthood.  If simple notes of thanks for gifts, pleasant company, and the like come to be regarded as embarrassing inconveniences, then we really and truly are in deep trouble as a society.  Sigh.

So, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to bang the drum one more time.  Take a few minutes of your time and cultivate the habit of sending brief notes of thanks.  These do not have to be lengthy either.  Just something along the lines of, "Thanks so much for the delightful meal and good company last night.  Blanche and I really enjoyed ourselves.  Let's do it again soon.  Next time, at our place.  Be sure to bring little Allan and Stella along.  -- Stanley." 

At the very least, taking a few moments to write and send thank-you cards will set you apart as someone who shows a modicum of consideration for and thanks to others who have been kind enough to remember and/or include you.  You are showing kindness, in turn, for kindness that has been extended to you.  A pleasant social give and take that is nothing to sneer atIt is that tiny bit of grooming and sophistication, after all, that is really behind Classic Style for the Average Guy.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

2 comments:

Old School said...

Thank you for your much-appreciated doses of civilization.

http://melissallarena.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Interview-Tips-What-to-Write-in-a-Post-Interview-Thank-You-Note.jpg

Glenda Moore said...

I still order stationery, and still write thank-you notes, bred to do it, couldn't not do it even if I wanted to. The day after birthdays, graduations, dinner-parties, parties of any kind, and Christmas saw us sitting down to write thank-you notes. Three observations:

1. Friends my age from my neck of the woods (Alabama) still do it.

2. I give small Christmas gifts to the students in my private studio, and many give gifts to me. I send thank-you notes, of course; in the last 30 years (teaching in California & Texas) I've received only two thank-you notes from those students. I don't fret, I understand they weren't raised any better, and I believe nearly everyone does the best they can with the knowledge they have.

3. I've learned that the trendy-fashion girls in their late teens and early 20's, who embrace "preppy" as a trendy-style, are buying stationery and writing letters & thank-you notes! At least something nice is coming out of this.