A Little Etiquette PSA

>> Monday, October 5, 2009

Megan over at The Bitchy Stitcher recently wrote a post that resonated with me. She described the frantic process of trying desperately to finish a gift quilt in time, getting to the final stage of needing to bind it, and wrapping the almost-finished quilt in time to take it to the recipient's party, only to watch as the mom of the child helped the child unwrap it by pulling out the folded quilt and put it right back in. I'm lucky in that I've never had a recipient of one of my quilts display such a non-reaction or reject a quilt so quickly and obviously. However, I have given quilts to people who have not bothered to acknowledge receiving it (when mailed) or send a thank you note. And this, though I realize I'm preaching to the choir here, sucks.

In contrast, I want to highlight my friend, the mother of the child in the above picture, who is the opposite, the most gracious of gift receivers (it doesn't hurt that she also quilts). The day she received the above quilt which was about 5 days after giving birth, she texted me a thank you. Now, I hate texts, but I make exceptions to my texting-hatred for friends who just gave birth; it seems only fair. Moreover, a few weeks later I received a lovely thank you note in the mail. I love receiving thank you notes and think everyone should send them.

But while amazing to get, it's not the well-written, thoughtful, and descriptive thank you note I lust after. No, when I mail a quilt, I mostly want to know that you received it. When I give you a quilt in person, the (gushing...hey they tend to be that way) thank you is sufficient. As a general rule, though, 95% of my friends are gracious thank-you note writers. I don't think this is generational, as these friends are my age and managed to acquire such etiquette knowledge while the other 5% are also my age and seem to have failed at reading Dear Abby or Miss Manners or just listening to their parent tell them to write a thank you note to Great Aunt Edith. As one friend has said, "obviously you prioritize the handmade gifts" and, as friends of mine who have managed to eek out a thank you note within, say, 6 weeks of giving birth have noted, "it's still possible to write one thank you note a day." And I'm not really that picky. A simple email or a phone call works.

I'm confident that most, if not all, of you reading here are fully cognizant of and execute well the art of thank you notes/emails/calls. I write this more in sympathy with the Bitchy Stitcher and as a googleable public service announcement for all who need to convince children, spouses, or whomever to write a thank you note. If you have a derelict someone who needs to comprehend this, feel free to send them my way.

On a more entertaining note, I'm thinking about making my (college-aged) students (in a class nowhere near the art/design world) figure out how to read a pattern, cut fabric, and sew something small. It's totally related to what we're reading and talking about. They just might think I'm nuts, however.


~Michelle~ October 5, 2009 at 8:33 PM  

Amen sista! I'm STILL waiting for a thank you from my cousin - I sent her a cute quilt (I bought, not made, but it was a great price!) and a knitted Pooh hat - I put a lot of thought into this, and haven't gotten squat from her - I've resorted to making Facebook announcements that I am displeased. We'll see if I get a response.

Jocelyn October 5, 2009 at 10:06 PM  

I couldn't agree with you more. I've made several quilty gifts (mostly for family) and it always seems like they feel that it is a "lesser" gift. And I think the age of Thank You notes is on the way out. After sending gifts to weddings, and for new babies, we hardly ever hear back from those receiving them (either gift or checks). If you are lucky enough to have attended the event, a general "Thanks to all" is sprayed across a crowded reception room. That's it! I've pretty much given up on giving quilts as gifts. I'd rather make them for charity.

Carla October 7, 2009 at 10:26 PM  

Here Here!!! Because of these reasons I stopped, for a time, giving quilts as gifts. Only the special people get these now. Because it cost money, time, and energy to make a quilt and people just don't appreciate handmade gifts any more. What's up with that?!?

I make my kids write out Thank You notes when ever they receive a gift, no matter how small.

Anonymous October 14, 2009 at 8:08 PM  

My policy on handmade gifts, and how to avoid the heartache of ungrateful recipients is this:
1. Do not surprise people with a handmade gift. Ask if they would like a quilt/sweater/whatever, and then, only if they ENTHUSIASTICALLY say yes, go ahead and make it for them.
1.b. if it is a garment, have them pick the pattern and materials. This way you know they will like it and they will get to anticipate it too.
2. Only give handmade gifts to those who are hand makers. People who like brand-new store-bought mall crap will not appreciate a handmade quilt. This is their problem, not yours. But you will have the sad result of them not appreciating your gorgeous work. Which is very lovely, by the way ;)

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