For as long as I can remember, I have had an encyclopedic version of Emily Post’s Etiquette on my book shelf. It, along with Strunk & White, and my falling apart copy of The World According to Garp, are some of my mainstays. The version I have of Post allows you to tab quickly through sections devoted to invitations, entertaining, condolences, and weddings.
So, it should come as no surprise to you dear readers that I’m a real devotee of the Thank You note. Friends know me as the person who will write a thank you note for a thank you note. “Now you really shouldn’t have, but I’m so glad you did!” lives on hard in the South, as does the simple act of an acknowledgement.
How you will know that you and I have really made it as friends, is when we actually agree to stop sending each other Thank you notes. I reached that little moment with my friend Kaki in Alabama before we moved- when we had thank you’d each other’s thank yous about eleven times, and so we agreed we would put a thank you truce on things, save some trees. But we both still know that in our minds’ eyes- thank yous are still flying.
Still, I am a woman of reason, and a woman of not infinite time and means (see: childcare, 9 scant hours per week). I recognize, and appreciate, the texted photo that says “we love this gift- we’re using it!” and I adore the Paperless Post thank you note because it tells me that you were able to write them and cross them off your list while watching the Bachelor. I have no judgement for the way and style in which you choose to acknowledge a gift or a kindness, I just ask so kindly that you do it eventually, and that you teach your children well.
All that being said, it is has been tough for me to accept the fact that I am now responsible for the gratitude-giving for 3 out of the 4, or let’s be honest, 4 out of the 4 members of my family (not actually completely true: my husband has the most delicious stationary and he writes a mean thank you note). I have struggled for years with how to appropriately give thanks and gratitude on behalf of my children and myself.
Well, this year, I came up with a solution and I really wanted to share it with you in the hopes it makes you as happy as it makes me. In my constant pursuit of the hobbies-that-don’t-require-scrolling, I have taken up hand lettering and watercolor. For a few dollars at Michael’s, I bought a watercolor paper book and a set of paints. I enjoy listening to my 1970s folk americana at night before Zac gets home (give me all the Joni Mitchell) and watercoloring, and Marilyn has taken to it, too, sharing a water cup with me and asking me to draw her favorite things.
Last month, she asked me to draw a unicorn, and then she painted it, and an idea was born. I would hand letter Thank You, and sign it from her, and commission some thank you notes with her original artwork. This was the first part of the aha moment. The second part came when I had done my research and selected Vistaprint as my vendor. They were simply the easiest by far, and most affordable, and allowed me the most options to customize my card type. I looked into others like Costco, Shutterfly, etc, but they didn’t fit the bill. Once I had selected Vistaprint, I realized I could also fill in the text. So, I sat down with Marilyn and asked her what she wanted to thank her adoring fans for- and she came forth with this little adorable novella of sorts that started out with, “turning four was the best day of my life.” I cleaned it up a bit, and clicked order.
Readers, dear readers, these customized little works of art come time capsules were 30 cards for $18.98 ($6.99 of which was shipping and handling) including the envelopes, and they arrived at my doorstep 5 days later. The next part of the fun of a four year old was that she spent an entire “Quiet Time” (more coming on that later) writing her letter “M” on each one, and then stuffing the envelopes, sealing them, and adding the stamp.
The project took us a few days to finish, but I’m really proud of the results. So far, everyone loves them, and I think her spirit really shines through. She is really proud of having contributed to the entire project, and I feel like it was actually one of those projects that I had more of an Adam Smith hand in, instead of a heavy “I did your Science Fair Project” kind of hand in.
I hope she never loses her sense of gratitude. And I hope you enjoy this little mom hack!