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Want to start an intriguing debate? Ask for people's thoughts on handwritten thank you notes
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I belong to a private Facebook group filled with parents of teenagers and college-aged students, and due to the sheer number of people, it's not uncommon for differences of opinion to arise. Rarely, though, have I ever seen a debate as split as the one raised by a post about something seemingly benign: Handwritten thank-you notes.

A mom shared that she was requiring her graduating senior to write thank you cards—the old-fashioned variety, complete with handwritten note, envelope, and postage stamp—and that emailing, texting, or calling on the phone to say "thank you" were unacceptable alternatives. She said her son was writing the notes but didn't like it, and she blamed computers and having to type assignments all the time for his resistance.

Some parents will read that paragraph, nod along, and agree 100% with this mom.

Others say the method doesn't matter—it's the message that counts.

Within hours, more than a thousand comments poured in and the responses were sharply divided between the "Yes, written thank you notes only!" and "Oof, that's a really outdated notion." (Not that the idea of gratitude is outdated, but the idea that appreciation must be written by hand and sent in the mail.)


Some people chimed in to say that they don't give gifts with any expectation of thanks, but naturally, it's good to teach kids to express gratitude when someone gives a gift. The method, however, is up for debate.

There is something extra personal about seeing someone's handwriting and holding a tangible note in your hand, especially in an age where we don't get nearly as much mail as we used to. But is that just nostalgia from an era on its way out?

As some people pointed out, kids today live in a different world, one where environmental consciousness comes as naturally as technological know-how. Isn't it a waste of paper to send a note in an envelope when you can say the exact same thing in an email or a text? Do email or text actually feel less personal to young people who do much of their communication electronically?

And isn't it just as personal to call someone on the phone and thank them with your voice as it is to send them a note with your handwriting? Some seem to think so.

Perhaps it's just a matter of tradition and strict etiquette standards? This is the way I was taught things were done, therefore that's is the way it is and it's wrong to do it a different way?

Again, some seem to think so.


Some parents rightly pointed out that times change, and what previous generations did is not automatically better or more thoughtful than the way young people today might prefer to do things. As long as kids grow up knowing that it's appropriate to let someone know you received their gift and appreciate their generosity, what difference does it make how they do it?

For some people, it makes a lot of difference. The die-hard handwritten thank you note folks were quite adamant about their stance, to the point of withholding their kids' gifts and checks until the thank you cards were postmarked and in the mailbox.

Kudos to those parents for teaching their kids to say thanks, but they're also making a broad assumption that everyone prefers to receive a thank you card. Again, comments from others showed that's not the case.

Many people said that they just end up looking at a thank you note for a few seconds before throwing it away anyway, and that they'd actually prefer to get a phone call. Some went so far as to say they hate getting thank you notes, saying it's a waste of paper and money for postage and they prefer messages of gratitude that use fewer resources.

Scrolling through the responses, people's opinions seemed pretty much split half and half between "Only handwritten thank you notes, always" and "Doesn't matter how you say thanks as long as you say thanks."

Who knew the basic thank you note was such a hot topic of debate?

One thing we can all agree on is that it's polite to say thank you when someone gives you a gift. Regardless of the method by which you do so, acknowledging someone's thoughtfulness and expressing gratitude is a valuable life skill. So always say thanks—but maybe try not to get too hung up on how it's done.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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