Is it Too Late to Send a Thank-you Note?

Daughter is embarrassed she keeps forgetting to say thank you

Dear Ms. Doyle: I received a house-warming gift from my mother several weeks ago when I moved to my new apartment. I was excited to find a package with the mail delivery and I’m very happy to have my new dish towels and beautiful votive. Mom and I have texted and spoken on the phone a number of times since and every time I forget to thank her. I’m not ungrateful, just forgetful! But now I am embarrassed to have let my thank-you go so long. It seems like anything I say now will sound really lame. I loved getting a surprise package and I really needed those dish towels, especially since my last roommate ran off with my other ones — which I had mentioned to my mom and obviously she remembered. She’s like that. How can I thank her so she knows I mean it, even though I am hopelessly late? Truly Grateful Daughter

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Dear TGD: With your mom — or anyone else — there is never a statute of limitations on expressing thanks. There are all kinds of ways to make up for tardiness. You are busy and your mom probably is too so I doubt she’d judge too harshly about a late thank-you note by email or even — should you find a stamp — by snail mail. You don’t need to overdo it with flowers or cookies or original artwork. That might be a bit over-the-top. The important element is the expression of your true feeling, not only for the thoughtful present, but for your mom as well. Even if a year had passed, you could still write something like, “Every night when I dry the dishes, my lovely dish towel reminds me of you.”

It may be easy for any of us to think we get a “by” on writing a thank-you note when receiving a gift from a parent. After all, they have done so much for us, what’s one more dish towel? However, applying the same guidelines of consideration that you would for any non-parent person in your life will only enhance your relationship with your parent. Maybe you could make a lanyard for your mom. Have you read the poem, “The Lanyard” by Billy Collins?

Now, having said all this, I can see that you already know what to do. Probably you have already done it. That you are even asking the question tells me that you are a wonderful daughter. She is, indeed, lucky to have you.

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