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  • Deirdre Carey Facebook

    Deirdre Carey | Thursday, January 13, 2011 16 Comments

    When is email enough?

    I have a question to ask you all, and would very much love to hear your honest opinion – do you think it is okay to send a “thank you email” in lieu of a handwritten “thank you note?”

    Here is my dilemma: I have two sons, ages 11 & 13. Each year their very thoughtful and generous grandparents send them bonds for birthday & Christmas gifts. Since their grandparents live in Florida, I usually have the boys call them to say thank you. Why the phone call? Because I think it is nice for the boys to have a conversation with their grandparents, and yes, okay – it’s the quick and easy way out! Terrible, I know. But like everyone else on the planet, my life is overloaded with work, kids’ schoolwork and sports, miscellaneous obligations and commitments…and the list goes on and on.

    Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘isn’t it the responsibility of the child to write the thank you note?’ And the answer is yes, well sort of. I don’t have a stack of blank thank you notes in the house, so I’ll need to go buy them. Also, this would require a stamp, and since I do all of my banking etc. online, I haven’t seen the inside of a post office in about a year. And not for nothing, but my youngest child is special needs, and God bless his little heart, his handwriting is completely illegible, and I would have to write his out anyway!

    So, you may ask, why am I suddenly reconsidering my phone call thank you? Because in the corner of my brain, every time I think about this, my mom, God rest her soul, is telling me to make sure I send personalized, handwritten thank you notes! She was obsessed with thank you notes – I’m not kidding!

    Now here I am teetering with the idea that I’ll have the boys send a thank you email. But, terrified by how it will be received! Let’s face it, I don’t care how many exclamation points and smiley faces you can include in an email, I’m always concerned that the tone, or lack thereof, when writing an email is completely void, leaving the recipient wondering if you really loved the gift.

    I think it is safe to say we’ve all become accustomed to the quickest way out. Sending texts rather than talking face-to-face to work out problems, sending emails to make plans rather than picking up the phone, letting our friends know how we are doing by updating our Facebook status rather than sitting down for coffee. I do whole-heartedly agree that we’ve lost the personal, human touch and interaction that is needed to sustain most relationships, and the issue I’m having with the thank you note is no different.

    So, what did I do to help me make this decision? What every true red blooded American would do, I Googled “is email an acceptable way to send a thank you note!”

    And, as luck would have it, I was not alone in asking this question! I found some sound advice from The Emily Post Institute – “we first must consider the nature of our regular correspondence and relationship with the person before deciding what the type of thank you note to send. And, if you chat regularly via email, and both parties have always been comfortable with this method of communicating, then it is fine to use email to show one’s gratitude.”

    Okay so that’s cool, right? I do communicate with my ex-in-laws via email frequently, and my oldest son has as well on occasion…..

    BUT….Then Emily Post goes on to say “However, a handwritten note can mean much more to someone than a note that pops into his inbox. This is particularly true of some people from an older generation, like your grandmother, who may consider a letter in your handwriting as a gesture of respect.”

    DANG it woman!

    Well, I guess I won’t be able to shake my mom’s voice in my head, or ignore Emily Post’s advice, and I’ll more than likely have the boys write thank you notes.

    What do you think? Would LOVE to hear your thoughts!

  • http://twitter.com/RedHeadMeag Meagan Ellis

    I think when you're dealing with old school people, you go old school – thank you notes are all about making them feel appreciated, and if you know they'll appreciate the written note more, that's the way to go! As for me, I'd be happy to receive an email thank you – but I guess I'm new school! ;)

  • Michelle

    I am sure that their grandparents would much rather get a phone call from their grandchildren then receive a thank you note.

  • Kalyn Harkins

    In my experience, my Grandparents love hearing from their grandchildren in any way possible. I email my grandfather all the time. It is convenient because we can each update each other, but on our own time, we never end up playing phone tag, and since they are in Florida for half of the year they like to know what is going on. But for birthday presents, I do always try to write out a Thank You note. My grandmother doesn't email, so I like to send them something the snail mail way so they can both read it and enjoy it. And I think for gifts, writing thank you notes shows you appreciate them and what they do for you more.

  • Deirdre

    Thanks for the reply Kalyn!
    I did end up writing a thank you note to the boys grandparents, which initiated a phone call response from them. With grandparents, I think the ultimate goal is to keep the communication going however we can. :)

  • Deirdre

    Agreed! :)

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    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Meagan Shaffer, Elisabeth Michaud. Elisabeth Michaud said: Emails to say thanks – WWMissManners do? Check out this @KelAndPartners post by @deedeecee on The Ampersand: http://tinyurl.com/46qhqpo [...]

  • Killercopy

    I am old. I like notes. Nice ones with puppies, bunnies or half nekid women would suffice.

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