Wednesday, February 9, 2011

CBS News: Handwritten Thank You Notes

Stationary is becoming a luxury instead of a staple. The advent of email, ecards and the like make it easier than ever to say thank you or happy birthday or "I've arrived safely" and so on, which is a good thing. Not to mention, greener.

So I'm not here to advocate or change anyone's mind about using paper stationary, but for what it's worth, here's a recent CBS News segment on sending handwritten thank you notes:

(As seen via @stationaryshow on Twitter; may not display properly on Firefox browsers)

Personally, I grew up writing and sending thank you notes for every holiday, gift, etc. and when I was a tween, I had something like 7 pen-pals, including one as far away as Russia, which was then still part of the Soviet Union. Besides my stock of Hello Kitty papers, I also had my great-grandmother's stationary, which was always tissue-thin, perfumed, scallop-edged, in pale pastels. There was some yellow stationary I remember well, printed with butterflies. It was lovely and I used it all.

Jane Austen once wrote to her sister:

I have now attained the true art of letter-writing, which we are always told, is to express on paper exactly what one would say to the same person by word of mouth...

My own opinion is that a hand-written thank you note is a nice gesture, but only if it's not completely generic. You can always recycle the paper afterward. Otherwise, maybe a simple thank you in some other form would be best, though I've recently heard that saying thank you publicly and online - on Facebook or Twitter - is not good etiquette because it lets your inner circle know what they've missed or were excluded from. That, too, can be argued in more than one way. It's tricky business, being modern.

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