Some people (my brother, for example) are very keen on hand-written thank you letters. Personally, I almost never write them, for a number of reasons:
- I grew up hating Christmas, largely because it meant being forced to write thank you letters afterwards. I would much rather people hadn’t given me presents for that very reason (apart from my parents, who always gave me the best presents and never expected a thank you letter). As an adult, I prefer to leave bad memories from my childhood behind;
- As a matter of literature, it is virtually impossible to compose a short thank you letter than is not cheesy. They are culturally
- deeply embarrassing;
- They are a sign of a lack of friendship. Good friends do not write each other thank you letters, any more than they find in necessary to shake hands;
- I personally hate receiving physical mail, the vast majority of which is unwelcome (junk mail, bills, letters from the childrens’ schools etc), and it feels uncomfortable to inflict it on other people.
So, for me, where a documentary thank you is needed, a quick email or text seems much more appropriate.
But manners vary with space and time. Wine is a case in point.
I used to live in London. Among at least some of my friends, it was regarded as unwelcome to bring wine to as dinner party. It delivered all the wrong messages:
- “I don’t trust you to have chosen something good yourself”;
- “You are too poor to properly provision your own table”;
- “I still think of you as if you are a student”.
Here in Australia, however, it is almost universally expected to “bring a bottle”. Happily, the wine here is almost universally good.