September 30, 2011
Procrastination: The Art of the Thank You Not
I am not a rule breaker by nature. Not because I’m especially good, but because I’m afraid of getting caught. I make sure to abide by the unspoken rule of foot etiquette: my toes are polished and my heels are smooth when I wear sandals. I hate this rule. But I don’t break it.
The custom of sending thank-you notes and cards for special occasions is another of those unspoken rules. But it’s one I endorse because it’s the epitome of consideration, and inconsideration is one of my pet peeves. You’d assume I’d be a champion of this rule. Yet the mental block I have against mailing any written correspondence, is so thick and impenetrable that no amount of shame, guilt or therapy (well, I’m sure if I tried therapy, it wouldn’t work) can overcome it.
It would be easy to blame my mother. Throughout my childhood well into adulthood, my mom would mention the thank-you notes from her wedding, signed, sealed, addressed and living in a box in our basement, still waiting to be mailed. Those thank-you’s even accompanied us on a few moves, and resided in at least four different basements.
It wasn’t my intention to imitate my mom. The thank-you notes from my high school graduation (also signed, sealed and addressed) lived in a box under my bed for a while. I threw them away before I moved. Why prolong the inevitable?
When I got married, I planned on sending out the thank-yous in a timely manner, but in an effort to save time and postage, (that’s not the real reason, but it’s what I told myself.) I decided to combine my shower thank-yous with my wedding thank-yous. I mailed most of them out before our first anniversary. It was a triumph for me.
I’m ashamed to admit that this lack of social etiquette affects not only me, but my children as well. S¹ diligently wrote out thank-you notes for his First Communion. I addressed them, then they lived in my basket of “stuff to do” for a long time before I moved them to a closet and then the garbage.
Unfortunately, my mental block doesn’t deal with thank-you notes alone. I have issues with any type of written correspondence and difficulty in overcoming each step of the process. Many times, I don’t buy the card in the first place. If I do purchase one, there is a fifty-percent chance it will end up in a drawer somewhere. If it does happen to get signed, it will probably get addressed. Then comes the total break down and it’s relegated to my to-do basket indefinitely.
There have been years when I’ve bought birthday cards, anniversary cards, Father’s and Mother’s day cards, and Valentines cards for the grandparents and they’ve heaped up in my to-do basket. When Christmas rolled around, I put all of them into a manila envelope, paid the extra postage and actually mailed them. Right now, I have three letters and a blank card that have been waiting to be mailed to a friend in Sri Lanka since last Christmas. Maybe the guilt from this post will induce me to mail them.
Procrastinating is as natural to me as my green eyes, and my short stature are. I’ve learned to overcome many of my “procrastinational” tendencies, such as my chronic lateness. I’ve gotten the hang of getting up early every day. I can stick to my semblance of a schedule most of the time, and I can publish a post twice a week. But I cannot seem to overcome my propensity for neglecting written correspondence. For some reason, mailboxes are for me, what kryptonite is for Superman. You may ask what the point of this post is. I would answer there is none, unless it’s to make you feel a little better about your own idiosyncrasies.