My husband and I tend to balance each other out; where one person fails, the other one picks up the slack. However, when it comes to writing letters and thank-you notes, we both suck. While this is an admitted failing on both of our parts, I'm still not going to go out of my way to write my 2-year-old's notes this year.
Thank-you notes have always been an odd thing to me, mostly because the etiquette seems slightly off and outdated. I get that they're supposed to show the gratefulness that you feel for an action or a gift and that good manners never go out of fashion, but to me they've always felt off.
For starters, this cultural norm for thank-you notes comes from a time when women traditionally did not work, and all of these etiquette rules were solely imparted on the wife. Even though I mentioned my husband in the first paragraph, no one is going to think of him as a bad father if the notes don't get sent out, but I might be considered a bad mother for not writing on behalf of my son. It's another example of the additional mental load women are tasked with.
Who we give notes to is also strange. I've never received a thank-you note from immediate family members, and I haven't written one to them. Only friends and acquaintances get those notes — yet another example of how we treat those removed from our inner circle better than our own family.
Since the only gifts my son is going to receive will be from close friends and family, I'm not going to go through the process of thanking my family a second time, on behalf of my son, just so I can put a stamp on it.
Surprisingly, the beacon of good manners, Emily Post, clarifies that thank-you notes aren't always necessary. "If, for example, the gift is from a close friend or relative (and it's not a wedding gift), you can email or call instead if you prefer," the article explains. Additionally, if the gift was received in person from family or a close friend, it doesn't warrant a note.
Beyond feeling slightly vindicated, thanks to Emily Post, writing thank-you notes on behalf of a toddler feels like a pointless action. He's too young to help and too young to notice what I'm doing. When he's old enough to either write the letters himself or, at the very least, dictate his words to me, I'm not going to write his letters for him. Period.
When I give a gift, I never expect to receive a thank-you note in return. I know that the person was grateful, or at least they pretended to be. I hope that no one gives my 2-year-old a gift expecting a thank-you note in return, because they'll probably be waiting a while.