Sunday, July 3, 2011

I'm Sorry, Thank you

I was recently sent a card crediting me for being a great human. Between you and me, I appreciated getting a card. The card was from my mother in law. Lately she has not been doing too well and my wife and I have been taking care of her. So, as a thankful gesture my mother in law sent me a card to say thanks and extend additional wishes of happiness.

A day after I got the card my wife got a phone call from her mother and the conversation went something like this:

Mother in Law: Did he get the card?
Wife: Yes
MIL: Did he like it?
Wife: Yes, he did.
MIL: Well, why didn't he say anything?
Wife: Well, he probably thought that since he'd see you in two days he'd thank you then. 
MIL: Well, it seems kind of inconsiderate that he didn't say anything about the card.
Wife: Yeah.
MIL: Don't you think people should say thank you when they receive a card?
Wife: Uh-huh. (sarcastic)

First, I'd like to argue the validity of thanking people for a card. If I sent a birthday card to one of my relatives who lives a great distance away from me, I'd like to hear a thank you back or at least a recognition that the card was received. Also, if I was sent a card from a relative who lives a great distance away I would see it as proper form to send a small note of thanks to recognize that the card/LARGE CASH DONATION was received. However, birthdays and Christmases aside, where distance is not an issue what is the protocol for card sending/receiving and why is it the way it is? At what point do the thank you's logically end if the assumption is that every time a card is sent, a thank you (or thank you card) must be sent in return? 

In the specific case I mentioned above I went from hero to zero simply by receiving someone's kind words who was moved by something nice I had done. Even though the act of giving is not supposed to be filled with expectation, it is. My mother in law is probably at this moment harboring some resentment for me because I did not adequately thank her for thanking me. I'm not even suggesting that I'm above it, in fact I'd probably feel the same. The question I am asking is, is this right? Are we, through our inability to thank without expectation  needlessly creating a never ending cycle of thank you's and thank you cards?

For the record, I'm a little resentful of the whole process where I am concerned. The best possible result for my mother in law would have been this outcome:

Her: Thank you for being so awesome 
Me: Hey, I got your card saying that I was awesome and I appreciated it.
Her: Well, you're quite welcome.

What the fuck? In this scenario I would end up congratulating my mother in law for sending a card  thanking me whereupon I thank her for thanking me and she tells me that I am welcome? That is hardly fair. In this instance it's really just a backhanded way for her to get me to congratulate her isn't it? The whole purpose of the card was to recognize my awesomeness. Anything I do with the card  short of crumpling it up in front of my mother in law and wiping my ass with it should be up to my choosing right? wrong.

So now I am left with a predictable and common problem. One where next time I see my mother in law I have to beat her to the punch and say: "I'm sorry I didn't get back to you sooner but I really appreciated that card you sent me." 


  1. Thank you so much for this post.You are awesome (:

  2. i guess they need a thank you card for the card they sent. then they'll have to send a thank you to your thank you, and so on and so on and so on ...

  3. whoo hoo! i would make thanking your mum-in-law for the card the first thing you say, the moment you see her, before even saying hello. if she's anything like my mum, this could follow you around for the rest of your LIFE! lol. good luck! :)

  4. NO Drone. If the card was sent with all sincerity, you are over analysing this. If in your heart you honestly feel you can't acknowledge her appreciation, then don't do it.
    Will it make you an ass? Likely.
    But just the same, I think it's rare and far between people stop their lives to say Thank You to people when they don't need to and most times, they don't. And to send a card is an extra effort.
    Maybe you just need to deal with the fact that you have been recognized and appreciated for your awesomeness or half of it. Just suck it in and move on. =)

  5. Andrea pretty much said what I was gonna say.
    But maybe you should send her the card in the last picture on your post.
    That should do it !

  6. isnt it the job of mother-in-laws to tie your mind into knots and keep YOU, the son in law, on your toes...? send her a card thanking her for her card - but dont put any postage on it so she has to pay for it herself.... revenge will be yours!

  7. send her a card thanking her for thanking you... maybe a tiny little slap would be nice, no?
    and if she doesn't get the joke, she'll love it.
    either way... what stupid b.s.

  8. how about "thank you for being overly sensitive and ruining the nice thing you just did!" card?

    or a "tag! you're it!" card?

  9. Do they make a, thank you for thanking me for thanking you for thanking me for thanking you, card? They should.

  10. I like Andrea's idea - send her a Thank You card for the Thank You card...

  11. My brother recently got married and received lots of cards...with a monetary gift. He also received a few cards...with kind words. I think his wife has a hard decision to make when writing the Thank Yous. To thank those who sent a gift card? Yes. To thank those who sent a check? Yes. To thank those who sent a Congratulations card? Well, the line was blurry.

  12. Your MIL is nuts in this case. You could turn it around on her and ask her why she took so long to send a thank you card to begin with. You could mention that since she didn't believe in instantaneous thanking on her part that you were planning on taking your time to get around to your turn to thank her.

    I just don't bother with thank you cards. If a verbal thanks isn't enough, then I don't want the crap you gave me in the first place that required the thank you.

  13. I hate when ppl send me cards. it's like they're saying "Here, here's some paper, now go fuck yourself. I hope your house catches fire and the culprit ends up being THIS fucking card as the kinlin. I fucking hate you and I wish you were dead."

    People are inconsiderate.

  14. What I really wanted to say was: I am thanking you, Drone, in advance for the thank you that is sure to follow, for reading and commenting on your blog. Did you send it yet? I haven't received it.

  15. I have not read anything so funny and so truthful. This post has made my day. I am so glad I found your blog and look forward to reading more. Your honesty is very refreshing and if you ask me that is my exact point I'm trying to make about manipulating. Sounds like she did something nice but expected something in return:)

  16. What a vicious cycle! Right on "flip"! Hey maybe if we all sent "thank yous" for "thank yous", we could keep the USPS in business ;)