Confession of St. Peter
When the Cleveland / Los Angeles / Anaheim / St. Louis / Los Angeles Rams eliminated the Dallas Cowboys from Super Bowl contention, the holiday season officially closed in Texas. (It ran a couple of weeks longer than usual this year.) The presents have been opened, the roast beast carved and devoured, families kissed goodbye and sent on their way, the New Year rung in, bowl games watched, black eyed peas eaten, and the Christmas tree taken down (O happy day!). Then, ready to settle down for a pleasant Sunday afternoon of napping through playoff games we care little about, someone (or something) taps us on the shoulder. It’s that most unwelcome visitor, the ghost of Christmas lingering we’ll call him, pointing his bony finger at the new pen and box of note cards on your desk. It’s time to write those thank-you notes.
There are apparently people who enjoy writing thank-you notes. I’ve never met one, and I’m not sure what I would think of them if I did. I fear that I would find them a bit too dourly perfect: Mary Poppins without the sense of humor. But C.S. Lewis, for one – someone decidedly not lacking in a sense of humor — was reputed not only to enjoy it, but to write immensely gracious, funny, and creative notes. He once thanked a friend who regularly sent him gifts of food with a note saying “If the apparently unceasing flow of your generosity continues, I shall, in common gratitude, have to put a placard on my back stating that “This body has been reconstituted entirely by the generosity of Edward A. Allen, Esq., of Westfield, Mass., USA.” (If one writes like that, why wouldn’t one enjoy it?) Nevertheless, the note-writing task must be underappreciated, else we would not need the constant urging.
Indeed, I suspect that many people feel ambivalent about receiving thank-you notes also. They remind us that we haven’t written our own, or they make us feel morally inferior to the writer, or, worst of all, they make us feel morally superior because we, after all, would never rush our thank-you notes out just to prove how practically perfect we were. (Note: I got any number of thank-you-notes already, all of which were well-written and thoughtful. I enjoyed reading them all. This exception only proves that I am blessed with unusually gracious family and friends.) So, why bother?