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E-thanks? No, thanks!

Original post made by Writer's cramp, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks, on Oct 17, 2007

Never have I been so tempted to write to Miss Manners. I just received an Evite mass e-thank-you note for a birthday party my child didn't attend, expressing appreciation for a non-existant gift.

This is just one of several "Dear Guest, thanks for the great present" group e-thanks I've gotten in the past few months.

We're all busy people, and it's a pain write out 30 thank you notes after you invite your child's entire preschool class to the party, but it is the gracious thing to do. Typing out a few lines and hitting the "send to group" button just isn't the same. I'd even be OK with an e-mailed thank you note, if it was an actual personal note.

Am I hopelessly stodgy or is anyone else mildly horrified by this?

Comments (6)

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Posted by Sad
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 17, 2007 at 10:13 pm

This is wrong on so many levels. Vying for the top reasons are:

1. The parent is not using the opportunity to teach his/her child the real value of a gift -- in the context of the generosity of spirit in which it is given. (The cynic may dismiss this as an idealistic interpretation of the motives for gift-giving, but that's a different issue. A kid shouldn't be poisoned by such cynicism.)

2. The child is taught that he/she is entitled to any and all gifts given, with no need to say thanks and to acknowledge the gift-giver(and if a kid doesn't learn otherwise at an early age, he's never going to learn that the sun doesn't revolve around him).

3. The ritual of gift-giving and receiving -- which can be a very rich and enriching experience -- is further diminished. That seems to be the fate of this potentially meaningful ritual in our increasingly materialistic and spiritually deadened culture.

What a sad trend this is.

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Posted by Gern Blanston
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 18, 2007 at 10:56 am

From the original post:

"Am I hopelessly stodgy or is anyone else mildly horrified by this?"

If you truly are "horrified" by this, mildly or otherwise, you need to spend a week or two in, say, Baghdad, to gain a little perspective. Honestly, of all the things to stew and vent publicly over, I can think of nothing of less consequence than gift etiquette for preshcool-age birthday parties.

And while on the subject, parents who host these large parties (my wife and I are among them) should request that no gifts be given to their child, and should offer no "party" gifts in return. This exchange of what generally amounts to a pile of cheap plastic crap benefits no one at the party, far as I can tell, and only bolsters the child's sense of entitlement and diminishes the gift-giving experience, especially when the gifts are opened after the party ends and the givers have long since left, which is generally what happens. Sure, there are those well-meaning parents who suggest a book exchange or that money be donated to a favorite charity in lieu of a gift, but I'm betting that benefits the parent more than the three-year-old, who just wants to eat cake and play with friends.

And handwritten, addressed, stamped, and mailed thank you notes for everyone who attended?! How many nannies do you have?


P.S. How's that for stodgy?

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 12:11 pm

Writer's Cramp:

"Am I hopelessly stodgy or is anyone else mildly horrified by this?"

You are not alone. Having children write their thank you cards builds their character as it displays appreciation, humbleness and gratitude. I think the mass email from the parent is not only kind of rude, it actually hurts the birthday child to a degree.

I'm with you. Hopefully that incident is the exception and not the rule.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2007 at 8:08 pm

Haven't seen it personally, but it comes in with the evite to everyone invitation to everything from birthday parties, tupperware parties and meet the candidate coffees which are going on at present. The problem is that we now have email lists at schools and although they are headed for personal use only, my suspicions are that they tend to get put on lists anyway. I have been getting them from people I don't know to meet candidates I don't support.

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Posted by Catherine McMillan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 23, 2007 at 6:43 pm

A) We've hosted meet-the-candidates coffees and invited people we didn't know to our own home, in the belief that many people who are open-minded (and have the time) want to become educated about all candidates. We even included people whom we guessed would not support those candidates since we had nothing to hide, and there is little value in preaching to the choir.

B) No nannies here: Our children have always (hand-)written thank-you notes, within a week no less (made drawings before they could write), and may not open a second present until the note for the first gift has been written. If presents are opened in front of the giver (a sadly disappearing notion), they must still write within a week -- or the toy goes away until it's done.

C) Both of our kids, otherwise very sociable, chose not to have birthday parties this year, just because they see their friends all the time anyway, those from school and from the neighborhood. Two other kids we know had 1 to 2 kids to dinner for their birthday celebrations. No junky goody bag fillers! Could this be a trend?

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Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2007 at 9:01 pm

Can you tell me why it is sad that opening the gifts in front of all the children is sadly disappearing. While I agree that it is good for the giver to see how the gift is received, it is absolutely abhorrent to me that all the kids can see all the gifts and know whose gift was "best". This practice has two downsides. First it can give a child with a lesser costing present, or even a home made gift, a visible indication that their gift is second class and secondly it gives all the kids the knowledge of who gives the best gifts and who should be invited to their next party.

I have seen these reactions many times and I really do not like it. I for one am very pleased that this habit is dying out. Yes, it is sad that the child can't see how the gift is appreciated, but sometimes it is better if they don't. Quite often, a child who loves the gift they are giving, is completely disappointed when the gift is opened by the recipient who treats it in a completely non-plussed manner and reminded by a parent to say thank you.

A nice letter, hand written of course, is a much better way for all concerned.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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