I contend that picking out stationery is probably one of the most important tasks that has ever fallen to mankind. One normally associates stationery with little old ladies scrawling their illegible best wishes on card they have culled out of their vast stock. Few people consider that older women are some of the wisest people around. (See RED.)
I realized this recently when I had to write a thank you note to a man I have never met who helped fund my scholarship. Normally, I just put off writing cards so long that it would be awkward to send them. (“Thank you so much for the scarf you gave me six months ago at my birthday party. I shall cherish it always.”) Not in this case. The message I send here is extremely important. It is, “Thank you so much for this beautiful money. I won’t waste it. Please donate more.” It is not a particularly complicated message, but one that deserves some delicacy in delivery. Emails are entirely inappropriate. They smack of laziness. Phone calls are too awkward, also, I’m congested. Personally showing up in Wyoming is too expensive. That leaves me with the US mail service.
As it turns out, writing the letter was the easy part. I can pick any words I want, but every aspect of the card I use will be carefully scrutinized, and I haven’t an unlimited supply of stationery. I must be careful the message I send.
- Textured paper speaks of opulence, of wealth, of environmentally friendly recycled sustainability! Unless, that is, it’s obvious that the leaves and twigs in the paper are printed on. Then you’re a cheapskate writing on a truck stop napkin, and you should try glossy paper. Too much gloss, however, and it’s an impersonal Hallmark card. The ideal card has the shine of normal printing paper.
- The picture on the stationary or front of the card is also extremely important. I thought it might be appropriate to thank a sponsor with a baby animal. My mother thought not. The sponsor might get the idea that I thought he liked baby animals. Then I found a card with an ocean scene. Perfect!
- …only there was a Bible verse inside, and, having never met the man, I don’t know his religious views. There is a dire shortage of cards that are just blank. The card can not be just blank. There has to be something on the front, or some pattern printed on the paper.
I finally found some old textured stationary where the leaves only look vaguely printed on and there is absolutely nothing else printed on the card. I hope it’s appropriate. You can see why I have so much respect for letter writers now, I hope. They follow these rules with ease and pacify even the most attentive letter readers. Of course, maybe I’m reading too much into this. Maybe all my friends don’t interpret my forgetting to send thank you cards as a sign of forgetfulness and rudeness. Maybe the kind man who set up a scholarship fund will read my letter for what it is, and throw it away. I hope he does.