Friday, November 14, 2014

Thank You, Thank You

I have a friend who is so good with thank-you notes that I swear they get home before you do.  I think she even has a deal with Santa to drop off the presents and her thank-yous at the same time.  She practically beats him down the chimney.  

Hand written.  On beautiful paper.  She even has birthday postage stamps for birthday cards.  

I am reasonably good at thank-you notes, thanks to my mom (we were not allowed to use our gifts until we had written a thank you note), but now I find out from Have Some Decorum that you are not supposed to use the words "thank you" in your thank you note. Who knew?  

Okay you probably all did, and I'm just late to the party, but I have been scrupulously and purposely saying those words in each and every note for years, and now I find out I'm - I'm what, out of touch?  tacky?  misinformed?  or, with a nod to Nancy Mitford, heaven help us, Non U?   Or is she wrong?

I'm thinking here about how our founding fathers used ain't in conversation and correspondence, and our grammer school grammar teachers had a cow if we said ain't.  Grammar changes.  Afraid of being mistaken for someone fresh off the farm, we conformed.  But really, what's wrong with being fresh off the farm?   With being who you are?

I grew up in a time when being from another country was embarrassing.  Something to be ashamed of.  You ate canned food and TV dinners and not the delicious healthy varied stuff of your homeland.  And our family recipes and traditions got lost, all but a few.  But unless you were a Native American (and that wasn't a good thing to be at that time either) you were an immigrant.  So were you supposed to look down on yourself?

Now is a huge deal, people chat away with great pride about where their people came from, every family seems to have someone digging into their roots.   We compare steerage horror stories and recall with pride those who had the courage to believe there was something better across the sea.  We search for and make with pride recipes from the old countries.   So much got lost, so hard to find.  

I am writing down my mom's stories of growing up during the depression, and going to college during WWII.  Of working as a bicycle messenger at a shipyard during the summers.   Of saving seeds and raising chickens.  Of summer rainstorms and dances at Foster Hall.  I wish I had known her then.  I know we would have been great friends.  I am so happy to know her now, so proud to be her friend and her daughter.  I love you mommy - so much.  You are my hero.

So how  did we get from thank-you notes to immigration?  I have no idea.  I'm off to write a thank you note to my dear friend who came for breakfast this morning and made me laugh.  And I promise not to use those two little forbidden words.  Or maybe I will, and just continue to be myself.  Whee!

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