In Defense Of Those That Forget To Send Thank You Cards

You know how we were talking last week about things we just don’t understand? Well, there’s another one that is not on MY list of irritants, but it holds a dominant spot on other people’s lists.


Let me start by saying that – in my adult life – I’ve been about 75% successful (or better) at sending Thank You cards to people for gifts received or favors delivered. But – there have been those times where it has just never happened. And I know so many people who get SO ANGRY about that and who carry it around FOR YEARS or longer, that I wanted to speak in defense of those times.

Most of the time you just forget. Simple as that. It’s on your To-Do list for a few days, or you left the gift out to remind you, and then suddenly months have passed and it never happened and you aren’t exactly sure if you forgot or not and it’s just easier to let go of the nagging feeling and write it off than to deal with it by maybe sending a second or a very late Thank You card.

And if you don’t understand how life can get SO busy that you would forget something THAT important…then please remember this: Everyone has different priorities. I have friends who don’t understand how I can live with piles of animal hair in every corner of my home. I have friends who don’t understand how I don’t help out at the kid’s school. I have friends who don’t understand how I let my kids eat processed snacks. And then I don’t understand how people don’t get addicted to running or how people don’t read. We all have things in our life that grab our attention, and if someone else’s life doesn’t have the “THANK YOU CARD” alarm that your life has? Remember that there are other things you ignore that the Thank You Card Neglecting person would think shocking.

I guess, my point is that YES. Thank You Cards are important. I made my daughter write one this weekend before she spent the actual gift card she received. But, the thing that bothers me more than people forgetting to send Thank You Cards, are the people who REMEMBER those who DON’T.

Please, understand that we are not bad people. And it’s not really fair to hold on to that in relationship to us forever. You don’t know our life. You don’t know the stress we were under when we received your gift, or the sadness, or the anxiety…you can’t assume that everyone’s life works like yours. And while you and your 8 kids, and full-time job, and PTA president, and soccer Mom life still allows for you to NEVER forget to send a Thank You card…your life is still not theirs. And they could be dealing with any sort of thing that is none of your business. And please keep this in mind: Holding on for years to the fact that your cousin didn’t send you a Thank You for the graduation gift, completely negates the charity of the gift itself. Yes, for practical reasons it would be nice just so that we know the gift was received, but once 6 months or so have passed? LET IT GO.

I bring this up because we got a Thank You card today and there was an apology for it being late. I wanted to write them back and say, “Don’t apologize! It’s your life! Life happens! Anyone who needs that apology should not have given you a gift in the first place! I don’t need an apology! And you don’t owe me one!”

And that’s when I realized I have some frustrations about this topic and maybe I should write about it to vent those frustrations.

Maybe it’s just a Southern thing, but I hear it time and time again. People complaining about people who don’t send Thank You cards. And I get it – I really do. I hate when I don’t get one because there’s a part of me that thinks, “Maybe I shouldn’t have sent a gift, then!” But then I hate myself. Because I’ve been there. I’ve forgotten. And it has nothing to do with not appreciating the gift. It has more to do with brains and their ability to only handle certain amounts of stress without cracking. There are some points in my life when I’m feeling gray – often from missing my Dad, sometimes from my failed pregnancies, often just because I’m disappointed in myself for any number of reason – and my brain pushes things like “Write Thank You Card” to the back of my mind so that all of my energy can be focused on getting through the day without a breakdown. And if anyone I send a gift to is having the same day? Then I pray their brain does the same thing mine does. I hope that they put my Thank You Card so far behind the task of “Staying Sane” that they forget it because that is not what’s important.

So…Do your best to remember your Thank You cards. But if someone forgets to send you one? Let them off the hook QUICKLY. And then don’t keep bringing it up to friends/family because then you didn’t really let them off the hook. Don’t save it for parties when people are discussing that one time they didn’t get a Thank You. Don’t save it for when they send YOU a gift and think Well, they didn’t send ME a Thank You Card…. Don’t think of them as less of a person. Because – I’ve been there – and I assure you they are still grateful. But sometimes their brain prioritizes things for them in order to preserve harmony in their life, so if they forget to send you a Thank You Card? It’s for a good reason. And while that still sucks? Don’t that against them (or me) forever, please?

19 thoughts on “In Defense Of Those That Forget To Send Thank You Cards”

  1. I do think a certain percentage forget, and that with the people we love we should give them the benefit of that doubt. But I think one thing that gets people ragey (I don’t get ragey, I get fretful: I think the gift maybe didn’t get there) is that there are so very many people who announce proudly that they don’t write thank-you notes, or that thank-you notes are stupid, or that people are stupid to want them, or they say they’re “too busy” in a tone that implies that the only people who have time for something as ridiculous and pointless as writing thank-you notes are people with no lives. That keeps things going. It’s like a commenter who said on the exercise-shaming post that a lot of her negative reactions to exercisers are reactions to the exercisers aggressively shaming HER for NOT exercising. It isn’t fair when someone who DOESN’T shame people for not exercising or DOESN’T say it’s stupid to write thank-you notes gets the backlash for the others—but it’s helpful to remember that there ARE those others: the person who keeps posting about “lazy slobs,” the person who says, “They didn’t give me a present just to get a thank-you note,” etc. It’s just too bad we can’t get those reactions to LINE UP, so that the individual jerks get the negative feedback and the individual nice people don’t.

  2. A gift is something given from the heart. Why expect a thank you card? I dumped my BFF that year she bought me a $300 blanket … which is quite beautiful & I never use because it was $300. For her birthday I bought her a night stand she coveted. Then got a passive-agressive thank you that said “I love my night stand. Your blanket would look nice on it.”

  3. This is interesting to be because I grew up and still live in the upper Midwest and sending Thank You notes isn’t really A Thing. We send thank yous for the big events but that’s pretty much it. I wrote thank yous for my confirmation, graduation, wedding shower, wedding and baby shower. We (and maybe I am overreaching here, but at least where I grew up) don’t send or expect thank yous for other random things throughout the year. Does that seem crazy? I don’t even ever remember writing thank you notes for any birthday gifts or Christmas gifts growing up, though I do have my kids write thank yous to friends who attended their birthday parties now. Now, I would write a thank you to a non-family member who gave me a gift, but I can’t ever imagine writing my mom or my sister a thank you for the birthday gift. Not saying it is right or wrong, just more of an observation on different geographical norms.

  4. I have a funny story about this. We had Colleen and Chris’s graduation parties together on one date, because she graduated from high school, and he graduated from special needs high school placement, where she was 18 and he was 21. I made her write all her cards out and send them and she did (although like 18 months later I found one unsent in my filing…. why???? – I never did send it…). But my mother in law had told me she would write out Chris’s and send them (he was living with her at the time), and then months later she said she had forgotten! So I wrote them and put them in the Christmas cards. All the recipients liked those cards but said it was so not necessary…. but it was funny, for me, I HAD to send them, even though they were about 5 months later…. But we only send or receive for big events such as grad, wedding, etc.

  5. I had a friend not invite me to her wedding because I apparently neglected to send her a thank you card for the wedding gift she sent me for mine. True story.

    I graduated from college, got married, and bought a new house all within one month, and while I spent a lot of time sending thank you cards after the wedding, I was unable to track down new mailing addresses for some of my college friends and apparently theirs were never forwarded from the addresses I sent them to. Clearly a misunderstanding (I sent them, I did!), but she never forgave me for the fact that she didn’t receive a thank you for the $20 platter she sent. And I was the only one in our sorority pledge class not invited to her wedding.

    So yeah, I’m pretty forgiving about the thank you cards. Say thank you in person and I’m all good 🙂

  6. I was raised to SEND THANK YOU CARDS ALWAYS, AND I MEAN ALWAYS. and yet, now that I am an adult? I forget. always. I suck at it big time. thank you for writing this- expresses it perfectly!

  7. I specifically never had a baby shower with either of my children because I resent the chore of thank you notes. It’s not because I’m ungrateful, it’s just that I find them overwhelming. I got a lot of unsolicited gifts with each birth but was too overwhelmed with my new motherhood and new baby exhaustion that I never got my notes out. I wrote them but never got them addressed, stamped and mailed. And I felt so guilty over it. I wish thank you notes were considered rude. Whenever I send a gift, I beg people not to waste their energy on a thank you note.

  8. I don’t have a problem with people that don’t send Thank you cards. I do have a problem with a friend of mine who refused to teach her children the importance of saying thank you. Calling or thank you card. I don’t think you have to do both, but you should teach your children something. This is probably a whole other issue for a blog post I should write!

  9. Thank you cards are sweet and I enjoy them…just like I enjoy any correspondence though my mail box which isn’t junk mail. But I absolutely do not care about Getting A Thank You Note. I gave you a gift because I wanted to. Because I care about you and thought this was something you would like. Not to add more guilt and sorrow to your life. If I gave you a gift in person and you said thanks? Totally enough. You received it and acknowledged it. Done. If I mailed it? A call or a text to let me know it arrived safely is perfect. Beyond that? I really don’t expect anything. I just don’t get why people expend energy remembering who didn’t write them the card?

    (That said, I try to write thank you notes)

  10. People who give gifts/do favors and EXPECT thank you cards are DOING IT WRONG. If people would stop expecting perfection from everyone around them I think we’d have a lot less bitter and lonely people in the world.

  11. AMEN. I learned a long time ago that A) Holding on to disappointments made me ugly and bitter and tainted perfectly beautiful relationships and that B) I am very, very, VERY far from perfect so expecting perfection from anyone else is a really crappy way to live.

    I find that the people around me are WAAAAAY too beautiful as a whole person to allow any of their individual faults darken that. And I pray they think the same way about me 😉

  12. While I think it is important to send thank you cards for things like weddings, baby showers, etc., I am sure I have forgotten to send out a thank you card here and there so I never get huffy about it when someone doesn’t send me one. HOWEVER, I was at a wedding a few months ago where the bride had everyone write their addresses on envelopes. And then she never sent out thank you cards! That just made it more offensive, ya know?

  13. The only time I have ever sent Thank You cards was after my baby shower. If someone gives me a gift I thank them in person (profusely) or call them and thank them. I never expect a thank you card from anyone I give a gift to. When I do receive one, I think it’s weird. I know I’m strange.

  14. A person who sends a gift expecting something in return is a horrible, self centered person. If you “aren’t sending that person a gift again because they didn’t send a thank you note”, then YOU are the bad person. Talk about self serving. What a disgusting attitude to have, or to teach your poor children.

    I never realized how self righteous and selfish people can be over a piece of paper meant to glorify them for an act that should have been done with a pure motive. And what the heck about all the paper being wasted!? Some people have absolutely no shame.

  15. OK I know this post is older but this is my rant today. I get a ton of graduation invitations — from kids that barely speak in social situations….many times the graduate had their parents address the envelopes! What is up with that? You sent me a invitation to an event you know I will not be attending with the expectation of a gift. OK I was young once…you had finals…your Mom addressed your envelopes. It’s summer. You’re out of school. I expect a Thank You.

  16. If someone forgets to or doesn’t have time to send me a thank you card, then I’m going to either forget or not have time to send them a gift next time!! If someone takes the time and thought to send you a gift, it’s common courtesy for you to take the thought and time to send them a thank you card. To not do so is rude – so don’t expect more gifts if you don’t take the time to properly thank people!!!

  17. It’s means a lot to me when I send someone a gift. I take time and it costs me money. It really pisses me off when the recipient blows me off and doesn’t thank me. So, you people who don’t have time or don’t think it’s important to thank people who give you gifts, you are disrespecting them because they took time and thought it was important to send you a gift! When I never hear from someone after I send them a gift, I’m not sure if they got it, not sure if they liked it, etc. IF SOMEONE GIVES YOU A GIFT, TAKE THE TIME TO THANK THEM!!!!!!!!

  18. It seems to be a thing of the past with most people. I figure if one has the time to send the invite? You should have the time to send a little thank you. Especially if you send gifts to a house. Then you can be left wondering did they get it? I think it’s very rude. I do remember who does and who did not. And it helps me consider to send something again or go to event down the road. If they get married. Then good chance baby shower next. Everyone is busy. So that’s not a good excuse. Just put the same effort as you did mailing the invites. It’s simple. And it goes a long way!

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