My mother was raised to be a Proper Southern Lady so, of course, she tried to raise her own daughters in the same proud tradition. There were lots of rules.
- Always keep a pleasant expression on your face.
- If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
- Sit with your legs together and your back straight.
- Wait hand and foot on your men.
- Keep your home, your family and yourself immaculate at all times.
- Accept compliments graciously.
- Horses sweat, men perspire and ladies "glow."
- Go to church every week (except for Communion service.)
- Help those less fortunate than yourself.
- Write graceful thank you notes for every gift and kindness given you.
I must hang my head in shame and admit to breaking every one of these strictures, some of them more frequently than others.
Except the one about Communion services, I never go to Communion services -- not difficult since I don't go to church except on special occasions.
Some of the rules, I have no qualms about breaking. In fact, some I revel in breaking. "Wait hand and foot on your men." HA! Ain't gunna do that. EVER! (Though if I'm honest, I will admit that the Engineer is pretty spoiled.) And when I'm working out in the garden in the heat of summer, I sweat. It's good for me and I take a shower afterwards.
The one about the thank you notes is the one that niggles most at my conscience because I agree with it and don't faithfully do it. It's worse now than ever because here in the Land o' Mormon all nice young LDS girls are trained by their mothers in the fine art of thank you note writing. Back home, most women, and all men, of my generation are indifferent thank you note writers. Here the thank you note always arrives in less than a week. Sometimes, if I'm good and send off a nice thank you note, I get back a thank you note for my thank you note.
Thank you notes are hard for me; possibly a visceral rebellion to my mother's not letting me play with the toy, spend the money, read the book, wear the clothing, until the appropriate note was sent. It's not that I lack gratitude, but how do I convey it gracefully? One must state what the gift is, how it will be used and how appreciated and valued it is. To make it more complicated, the note must not seem trite and formulaic, it must be bright and original.
"Thanks for the book, I've always wanted to read it," just doesn't cut the thank you note mustard.
"Thank you for the lovely red sweater. I will wear it every time I teach at the Red Cross this winter. I will feel thematic and look sharp too." Okay, that sounds good, covers the thank you note bases. Of course, the note must be filled in with how nice the giver was to give it to you and how you appreciate their friendship more than any, no matter how wonderful, gift.
Then there's the problem of what to do when you get a gift that you'd really rather not have. A gift that will live in the back of your closet except for occasionally, when you're seeing the giver, that you feel obliged to pull it out to demonstrate that you really are using it. And don't try to tell me you've never gotten one of those gifts, we all have.
"Thank you so very much for the puce and purple fuzzy scarf, it will be a valued jewel in my wardrobe." Okay, I've covered what the item is, how it will be used. I guess it's honest, valuable jewels are put into a safe deposit box and never seen -- that's honest. Isn't it?
So, to those of you to whom I owe thank you notes, Thank You! I really do appreciate it, but sometimes, when it comes to putting pen to paper, I'm simply inarticulate. Not to mention a bit of a procrastinator.