If You Give Me A Gift Don’t Expect A Thank You Card

I have a box filled with cards and lists of people next to the gifts they gave me. Some are recent. Birthdays, showers, etc… Some are over six years old. From my wedding. In 2009. 

It sits on a shelf in my closet. Unopened. Still. After all this time. 

Why do I still even have these? As if after all this time I’m suddenly going to sit down and start writing out thank you cards. Dear so and so, thank you for the bathroom mat we actually returned for an ill advised set of white towels. White. Nothing stays white. For me, at least. Ugh. 

You might be thinking, “Better late than never.” I realize there is a very large and aggressive element for which this is an issue of character. It is moral. And I suppose that in some small way, that is why I still have the box. But when I sit down and truly examine my heart and my mind. Take the time to break down the act of gift giving. Of relationship. Of loving other people in my life. Of them loving me. I find that I cannot bring myself to conform. To agree. 

I am not a writer of thank you cards in bulk.

I loathe them, in fact. 

With everything in me. 

Do I expect all people to? Absolutely not. I would expect other individuals to have a wide array of opinions on the topic. That fits their heart. Their conscience. And to respond accordingly. And I am fine with whatever that response is. Because I get it. We all love in different ways. 

It’s not that I’m not thankful. As women we have come a long way. We have managed to break the glass ceiling. We fought for and earned the right to vote. We hold some of the highest seats of power in the world. But apparently we are still enslaved to greeting card etiquette. But whatever.

When I give you a gift, that’s it. Because I love you, I chose to find something that was heartfelt and specifically chosen, I spent my own hard earned money on it, and now I am giving it to you. Please, receive it. End of transaction. If I am at your party or shower and you say thank you in person, great. I might even hug you. And I’m not a hugger. 

And vice versa. If you give me a gift, thank you. I may say it to your face. I may call you. I may tell you at the party. In rare circumstances, if and when I feel called, I have been known to write a thank you note or card to someone. But it has a very particular reason or purpose. I am not doing it out of a sense of obligation. To fulfill some ridiculous cultural, commercial norm. Yes, commercial. To give money to greeting card companies. 

There is no need to spend or waste any time or money buying an expensive piece of paper that some poor tree had to die for, fill it out with time you don’t have with empty and repetitious words you struggle to come up with, for a gift you are probably going to return because you would have preferred a gift card or cash anyways… Did I forget to mention the stamps, the trip to 42 different stores for returns, the post office, now I can’t find the list with who gave me what, or the receipts? Ad nauseam.

It’s all a little too ridiculous. Really. I get it. It’s tradition. Etiquette. It’s the right thing. It’s what we are supposed to do. 

Why? For the love of sanity. Why?

When I am on the receiving end of a thank you card from a wedding or shower, no thanks. It’s not life or relationship building. For me, at least. I am only going to throw that thing right in the garbage. Probably unread. Sorry.

We covered this already. At the shower. I know I gave you the trash can. I was there. So were you. You said thank you already. I got embarrassed in front of everyone and explained how it was the only thing left on the registry. We even hugged. No need to go back there. I’ve been to your house. It’s not there. 

If this makes me a horrible person then I am truly lost. I will lose a job because I stopped to help a turtle cross the road and was late to work as a result. But the card thing makes me evil villain number one. This is why I take the medication. 

Dear Jesus, life is too hard. 
And the people who are closest to me, get this by now. They allow room for these kinds of margins in my life. Even if it does not conform to their particular life style. And I appreciate that. Because otherwise I’d be wearing the jacket in the padded room in the institution. This is no joke. 

Some people have already stopped reading. Some of you are beyond offended. And some of you are totally and completely relieved. Welcome. Welcome to sanity. Yes. You are not alone. Breathe. That deep sigh of relief. 

We are not completely evil. Just different, I think. I choose to love people in a different way. I would much rather give people in my life my time and energy in other ways. Ways that fit with my heart. My conscience. And not just what the world tells me is “the right thing.” 

Call me naive. Call me what you want. But I would rather save all that wasted time and spend it with you in person. I would rather donate the money I would have spent on cards to The Canopy Project, which is committed to replanting 10 million trees over the next five years. Or maybe on another gift. Or coffee. Oh yes, let’s just go get coffee. 

I just don’t get it. If that makes me wrong, well, I don’t want to be right. We will just have to take it up with God when we get to heaven. If I get one less gem in my crown, so be it. 

In the mean time, I am finally letting go of the box. The cards and the lists are finally going. I am releasing this lingering sense of obligation. The guilt and the shame. Because it’s not me. And I have enough issues in my life that I can barely maintain. 

So for me, for now, it’s no thank you to thank you cards. And I’m okay with that.

If you give me a gift you will get something else. Relationship. I will try to learn your love language. Words of affirmation. Quality time. More gifts. Etc… And I will do my best to feed into your life in ways that fill you in ways that a piece of paper never could.