Writing thank you notes takes time and each card conveys very little true sentiment. It's hard to express deep gratitude in the space of a 3x5 card. It's also hard to express deep gratitude when you have so many cards to write and some of them are to people you don't know/haven't seen in years and don't remember what they look like.
I received a real letter in the mail today, a front and back hand-written letter. Now, that took some real time and initiative. I have not sat down to write someone a letter in a very long time. I haven't sat down to do a lot of things in a long time.
When I think about letters, I think about the new Pride and Prejudice movie where Mr. Darcy sits at the desk writing a letter to his sister Georgiana, or I think about when Lizzy holds the letter from home informing her that Lydia has run away. These letters had such a great substance to them-- a whole sheet of paper, folded over onto itself. They had so many folds and held so much text. How beautiful. They were like pieces of art.
My mother has made so many books and journals whose pages you can get lost in with their colors and folds and intricate designs. I like the idea that I have in part learned from her-- that it isn't the words themselves that are the art, but it is the way that they are conveyed, displayed, presented, and ultimately experienced by the reader. These massive Pride and Prejudice letters probably did not seem that way to their recipients, but if someone sent me a letter like that, I am sure I would find reading it to be a unique experience. I would never throw that letter out like I would throw out a thank you note without thinking.
If I were truly convicted on this point, I would invent some kind of experiential thank you note that no one could throw away. All of our wedding gift givers would have some sort of a remembrance of us as they read the words of thanks. Maybe the mere thanks would seem truer. Then, my mind switches into the cost-effective mode and flips through various methods of achieving such a feat-- an interactive, experiential thank you note-- no, no, this is too much. They would have to be designed, we'd have to get little things printed to stick in them like a little picture of us together and our new address-- it would be a production. Maybe for Christmas, we will send out an interactive card. Maybe after the wedding.
Sending a five dollar Starbucks giftcard in every thank you note definitely wouldn't be cost-effective, but it also wouldn't serve the purpose that I want it to serve-- that being the creation of a tangible keepsake, a remembrance of the one who received the gift. Something that would tickle the person when they opened it. The words were supposed to be the thanks-- that's the point of the note, but now that our culture devalues words so much, we have to think of something else, at least for my generation. Maybe older generations appreciate it as something that is meant to be done, but in five and ten years when all of my friends get married and have babies, I will probably throw out their boring thank you notes, just like people are going to throw mine out, even though it took me an hour to write about ten of them on this boring Monday night.