Pretentious thank-you notes

Everyone knows that if you receive a gift you’re “supposed to” write “a thank-you note.” The problem with “supposed to” is that these notes become a box to be checked instead of a true expression of gratitude. And it might even feel weird to forcibly conjure up a note of thanks if you were particularly gleeful and gracious when you opened your gift in front of the giver.  Forced thank-you notes become redundant, giving the note-writer the appearance of actually being more thoughtless than if she were to just let it rest with the genuine verbal “thank you” she gave when she received the gift.

I feel like I’m being unclear.

Okay… tell me how you feel when you receive a note in the mail that says something like:

Dear wedding guest number 137 Monica,

Thank you for the box of stuff crystal champagne flutes from that store we registered at Macy’s. It was so thoughtful of you to click five times and type in your credit card number think of us. We can’t wait to put them in a cabinet and dust them once a year use them.


Tired bride and her annoyed, new husband Kate and John Smith


And pretentious.

Pretentious because Mrs. Smith is going through all the motions of gratitude without actually being thankful. She’s putting on a show, signing her new husband’s name, and peeling an address label off of a stack of 200 she printed from her wedding guest database. She thinks she gets gracious points for this.

She doesn’t. Instead, she gets points for being a finisher (which is also a fine quality and one that I greatly admire). She got the project done and out the door. She checked the box. But she is not gracious or lovely. She is like a plow horse. Well, sort of. Plow horses are never pretentious, though. I think a plow horse would be really offended and sad if you accused her of being pretentious. Maybe if Mrs. Smith realized she was being pretentious, she would be horrified enough to write a real thank-you note next time.

I realize this was a totally negative post. In an attempt to be more constructive with my criticism, I shall next share how to write a really good thank-you note.

This entry was posted in etiquette, writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Pretentious thank-you notes

  1. Pingback: Perfectionism | In Pursuit of Truth and Beauty

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