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.


16 comments on “Procrastination: The Art of the Thank You Not

  1. I like your point. Please reply when you get around to it.


  2. Well, I have a million quirks, so hopefully that makes you feel better about yourself. I know, I know, my thank you card is in the mail…

    But in all honesty, there is a great amount of value in a handwritten thank you note. I say that not just because I work in the stationery industry, but because…well, that’s the main reason. But it also only takes a few minutes. It can mean a lot 🙂


    • I have another confession. My hobby is card making. Seriously. I have a mini-studio in my bedroom. I usually send out the ones I make. I just never seem to have time…

      As for your quirks, they’re all endearing so you don’t have to worry about them 😉

      And I meant to put this on my comment on your post: GO TIGERS


  3. Somehow India does not have a culture of giving ‘thank you’ notes. Instead, we create an endless chain of gifts. If A gives a gift to me then I have to give A a gift under some pretext. A ‘mere’ thank you does not suffice. Thank you phone calls are encouraged but not really expected.

    However, I am absolutely certain that if such a culture were to be present in India, I would have found myself procrastinating over every single Thank You card. 🙂


  4. “unless it’s to make you feel a little better about your own idiosyncrasies”… Mission accomplished–thank you! My own Kryptonite is the phone, but that’s another whole blog… 😉


    • Thanks for the comment. Making someone feel a little better makes sharing my embarrassing habits worth it 😉

      Phone calls can be Kryptonite for me too. I’m so glad email often rescues me from them.


  5. I have more bad habits than I dare mention so you admitting this little quirk is fine by me. Our failings are what help make us human. At least I hope so as that thought helps me to sleep.


  6. Ducks and me think alike, bad habits are what make me me and him him and you you. If we didnt have bad habits, what worth would TV religion have? OK, maybe that was a loaded question. If you are limited to thank you notes having a life of their own, then you Lady are too nice to ever make history. Its the bad ones best remembered. (some old quote said by some interesting woman)


    • Larry, Larry, Larry.

      First of all, to some people not mailing cards is a heinous crime. One time I sent my mother-in-law a dozen yellow roses (her favorite) for her birthday, thinking that would trump all the cards I never sent. She called me later and said, “I appreciated the flowers, but I missed getting a card.” She was a very kind lady, But cards were very important to her.

      As for my bad habits. This is one of my tamer ones. I’m saving the rest to write about when I get writer’s block, or I want a lot of hits on my blog stats 😉


  7. You post just reminded me that I need to send a thank you note to my prof. I would have NEVER thought about that…and it wasn’t even procrastination! Thanks! haha.


  8. I have a similar mailbox-kryptonite problem. Thank God that Netflix has no late fees! 🙂 Unfortunately for my mailman, this also extends to *getting* the mail from the box. So, sometimes the mail is really packed in there by time I grab it. I believe I’ve been threatened once by the mailman that if I didn’t get it more frequently he’d stop delivering it. I have more of an aversion to the post office than the mailbox. I may never get a piece of mail again…. 🙂


    • I agree with the netflix thing, but we tend to get a video and keep it so long that we’re really paying $20 to watch it once.

      As for mailbox aversion, my husband gets it everyday, so I don’t even know if that’s one of my aversions.

      Who needs mail? We have the internet. 😉


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