How to Say Thanks

In an age of instant gratification, what's the best way to express actual gratitude?

Because all advice goes down easier with a drink (even a non-alcoholic one). Especially when it's picked at random from our columnist's extensive collection of community cookbooks.

Dear Pink Lady,

In this age of electronic media and communication, is it acceptable to e-mail or Facebook someone a thank you for a gift or kindness, or are written thank-you notes still appropriate?

—Not Still Sending My Wedding Thank-You's. (Seriously. (No, Seriously!))

Dear Still Sending,

Written thank-you notes will never go out of style. And there is never a good excuse—nay, there is never any excuse—to not send one. For anything. Gifts, dinner, a visit, a good talk—all are perfectly deserving of a brief note on actual paper.

That said, any acknowledgement is better than none at all. I'd rather have a friend post on my Facebook wall that she loved the birthday present I sent her than wonder if she ever got it. And I think that for an informal dinner or party, or a small gift like a mix CD, a thank-you e-mail is more than adequate.

But for an actual present—i.e., something that somebody bothered to wrap—you really should send a handwritten note. Even if it's money or a gift card and its wrapping is solely an envelope. And if it's a wedding present, you had better damn well send a handwritten note. Even if it's two years late. Even if its the ugliest thing you've ever seen. Even if you have no idea what it is. I personally know more than one person still harboring grudges over not receiving thank-you notes from the recipients of terribly lovely and expensive wedding presents—do you really want to be that person?

I would also stress that in this economy, you absolutely cannot go wrong sending a handwritten thank-you note after a job interview. However, if the interview wasn't in the same city and the note might take a few days to get there, I would send a brief thank-you e-mail immediately and follow it by a longer, handwritten note. Old-fashioned? Sure. Do people notice? You bet. You do actually want a job, right?

If you have absolutely no patience with the concept of physical letters or actually handwriting something, mix up a batch of "24-Hour Cocktails." Because, really, gratification shouldn't always be immediate. After you've meditated on the nature of gratification, use the rest of that time to write some thank-you notes. Then you'll have earned that drink.


The Pink Lady


24-Hour Cocktail

Boil 1 1/2 cup sugar with 1 qt. water, then add the juice from a dozen lemons and a pinch of salt. Put six lemon rinds in a pan; pour the boiling mixture over them. Add 1 qt. whiskey. Let sit for 24 hours. Strain, bottle, and refrigerate—then drink!

This week's drink is from Recipes From Miss Louise (New Orleans, La., 1978).

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