There is one HUGE difference between the North and the South: thank you letters. Northerners don’t write them, and Southerners write too many. I’m still getting thank you letters from holding the door open for someone at an Alabama Denny’s in 1979.
It’s not that Northerners don’t understand the concept of thanking another person; they just would rather not do it on paper. The last recorded thank you letter north of Virginia was in 1968. I saw it in the history museum of the North during a 4th grade field trip.
On the other hand, Southerners write thank you notes to the employees at Wendy’s for getting them a cup of coffee: “I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the small coffee with cream on Friday. Even though I hit a curb while driving, spilling my coffee, it was great! Thanks and I look forward getting more of those delicious Baconators.”
My very Southern wife just wrote a note to the guy who pumped our gas on the Jersey Turnpike over Christmas break. He drove down and egged us, a typical Northern reaction.
If you don’t get invited to a party up north, you act like most civilized citizens: you egg their house. In the South, you write them a note: “Thank you for almost inviting us to your party. I heard all our friends had a wonderful time without us, and the roast beef was fabulous. I appreciate the time and effort you took to consider not inviting us. We really enjoyed ourselves eating Burger King while you dined and danced without us. Can’t wait to not receive the next invitation so we can stay home and eat gruel.”
Of course, you would then receive a thank you letter back: “Our pleasure for almost inviting you. The party would not have been complete without almost having you there. We must almost invite you again soon. And yes, the roast beef was fabulous.”
All this writing can be exhausting. So we hire a girl from Wisconsin to write our cards and letters. Most are brief, at 30 pages; some are a bit longer at 240 pages. She’s a delight, very affordable; our family just can’t afford to eat anymore. I’m beginning to think that people from New Hampshire might have this thing right: just say “hello” to someone every 5 years and otherwise ignore them.
My first attempt at a thank you note went something like this: “thanks for the thing you got what’s her name. I think she really enjoyed it.” I got egged. That was in Connecticut. It’s a misdemeanor in Vermont to thank someone, and a felony in Michigan. So don’t get mad at a Northerner for not writing a card; they’re just trying to avoid jail time.
Stationary is a line item in most Southern budgets because you can’t just go to the CVS like they do in Maine, where they don’t thank you anyway. Most Southern kids come out of the womb with a thank you note in hand: “thanks so much for the last 9 months! Can I please borrow $20?”
Southerners don’t care about the gifts you buy; only the thank you letters you write. You could buy your neighbor a new Buick and their thank you card would read: “I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed your card. It was so thoughtful to write us. Almost forgot, we LOVED the envelope!”
My daughter got a Barbie for a gift. We sent the customary note. Six minutes later we got a thank you note back. Twelve minutes after that, we got one from the gift-giver’s mother thanking us for thanking her daughter. Of course, we wrote them a card for thanking us. The Barbie cost five bucks, the stationary fourteen and climbing.
Thank you notes are just like potato chips, you can’t stop at one. Our Southern cat actually wrote a thank you note once: “meow meow meow meow.” Translated that means “Love the note, how thoughtful, fur has never looked better with the brush, also loved the envelope, Meow.”
OK! Got to go! We just checked out at the Harris Teeter and need to rush home to write a thank you note for the checkout girl. See, even this Northerner is learning!