April 15, 2024
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April 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Seeing as I made a bar mitzvah a couple of months ago, some of you have been wondering when I’m going to get around to writing about thank you cards.

“When are you going to write about thank you cards?” you keep bothering me with. Every day.

We bother our son too. We bought him a whole box of cards, on top of making his bar mitzvah. We also bought a bunch of clear address labels to go on them. And he hasn’t even said thank you.

“Dear Mommy and Daddy,

Thank you for the thank you cards. I think about you every time I use them.

Sincerely Yours,

Schmutter”

Nothing says “thank you” like a personalized, messy, handwritten note on a card with the name of the person thanking you in a really nice fancy font on the front.

So here’s the question: What is a reasonable amount of time for a kid to send a thank you card? I don’t really pay attention to how long it takes to get them from other people. I read them once and think, “When did we go to this thing? Isn’t this kid married by now?”

Maybe he is. Maybe his wife made him write the cards.

It’s a chore to write them. It happens to be that it’s harder to be excited about something after the fact.

On the other hand, if someone sent you a present, the least you can do is write a thank you card. In fact, if someone sent you a $50 present and each card costs a dollar, you should probably send him 50 thank you cards. That’ll show him. And anyway, you’d think that if this is a kid who can memorize an entire parsha, he can write a few thank you notes.

My daughter, who is a couple of years older, didn’t have to learn a parsha, obviously, so we couldn’t use that logic. But with her, we told her that if she doesn’t write thank you cards, she doesn’t get to keep the presents. We’ll write the thank you notes and keep everything. So she asked if she could just have us write the ones she doesn’t want.

Everyone tries to get away with something. My son wanted to know, if 14 people got together on a gift, can he send one thank you card to all 14 people? It seems fair.

But there are other reasons to send thank you cards anyway. For example, if someone doesn’t come to your simcha but mails the present, you need to send a card so they know you got it. Even the people who bring actual gifts to the party—they bring it in and set it on a pile. They don’t know if the person’s getting it. Someone else could be walking in and going, “Ooh, they have a grab bag!”

So you need to write something. And you can’t just write a note like,

“Dear ______,

I got your gift. It wasn’t stolen or anything.

Love, Schmutter.”

And this is why I needed to help our son, start to finish. Our son is not a writer. He wanted to write, “Dear ________, Thank you for the _________,” and that’s it. I’m like, “No, you have to come up with at least a second sentence for each. Something specific to the gift.”

He also felt awkward writing “Love.”

So I wrote him some templates, because I didn’t want him writing things like, “Thank you for the ____. I exchanged it for store credit.”

So I have to write him a script to work off of that, as it turns out, doesn’t even help with two people’s cards. No template—for bar mitzvah or wedding—works for all presents:

“Thank you for the lovely blender. I think of you every time I use it.”

That template also doesn’t work for knives, pincushions, garbage cans and seforim on loshon hara.

And after he writes them, I have to sit down with him and edit each one. It takes having your kid write thank you cards to realize how embarrassing his handwriting is. They don’t teach handwriting in school anymore. And he didn’t know how to address the envelope either. I told him, “Just write the name of the person on the envelope, so we know who it’s for, and we’ll look up the address.” So he put their names in the top left corner, where he figured they’d be out of the way. Now what are we supposed to do? It looks like they’re the ones who sent it.

“So cover it with an address label,” you say.

Yeah, our address labels are clear.

I didn’t fight him about most of these things. It’s a big enough victory that I got him to stop writing “Love Schmutter.”

And he’s mixing and matching the templates incorrectly:

“Thank you for the lovely esrog box. It looks great on my wall.”

“Thank you for the lovely savings bond. It was exactly what I wanted.”

“Thank you for the lovely challah knife. I’m looking forward to using it on Pesach.”

“Thank you for the lovely check. I can tell you spent a lot of time picking it out.”

The main point of thank you cards, though, is about teaching your kid to thank people. It’s not like your guests are stuck without a thank you card. (“I bought all these you’re welcome cards. What am I going to do with them?”) People aren’t hung up on whether you’ve thanked them yet.

Well, some people are. There are people out there who are insulted when they haven’t received a thank you card when the gift they gave cost less than the meal you gave them. I’m not keeping score, but where’s your thank you card?

“Dear ________,

Thanks for having me at your wedding. It was awesome! Especially the grab bag!”

By Mordechai Schmutter


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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