Not that you can tell most of the time, but I was raised with manners. I know which fork to use with which course, and I know how to set a table. When out to eat, I usually remember to keep my elbows off of the table. I know that you're never supposed to talk about money, religion and politics in mixed company. I know when you're supposed to stop wearing white (and when you can start again). I know that when invited over for a dinner party, you should always bring a bottle of wine and/or a dish to share (and you're never supposed to bring the leftovers home with you). I might not make Miss Manners proud, but my mom's pretty happy with the way I turned out.
Except when it comes to thank you letters.
I don't know what it is about writing a thank you letter that makes me so bad at it. Maybe it's the forced politeness. Maybe it's because I never have postage stamps or good stationary. Or maybe it's my flaky nature that makes me inclined to forget things easily. Whatever it is, it's usually months after I receive a gift that I get around to sending the letter.
Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm not grateful. As a rule, I'm phenomenally grateful for the gift and the thought, and gush to anyone who will listen about the awesomeness that I received. I just forget to gush to the giver of the gift.
So, I know it doesn't technically count, but here are my thank you letters:
You have no idea how grateful I am for your presence in my life. You keep me young with every box you send. Your generosity speaks volumes about your selflessness. Because, seriously? You send your 34 year old niece a Christmas gift and birthday gift, without fail, every year. You even remember to include gifts for The Trolls -- one of whom you've never laid eyes on. In short: you're awesome in ways that I can't even begin to describe.
I suck at thank you letters (as I'm sure you've noticed but have never pointed out). But don't let that be a tell. Those boxes mean the world to me. Actually, it's not the boxes -- you could send an empty box and I would be grateful (but please don't. You have the best taste in gifts. See? I'm awful!). It's the love that's in there. It's the thoughtfulness. It's the support and the belief you have in me. Please know that I feel all of that for you, too.
So thank you for being indulgent. Thank you for being tolerant. Thank you for everything.
Every day that I still have you in my life is a day I'm thankful for. You have taught me so much and been so supportive. You haven't always liked all of my choices, but you've been there, right behind me, every step of the way. You are my anchor. Thank you for YOU because YOU is an awesome thing and because you get me, I don't even need to finish this sentence in any coherent way.
And thank you for the birthday cashola. I know I cashed that check quickly, but wasn't so quick to get the thank you letter out. It's because I suck at thank you letters. That isn't a reflection on how you raised me -- because you did a good job. I'm just a space cadet (I blame Dad).
Also, thank you for not doing the near-death routine that Dottie's been pulling. I know you're 83 now and are officially at the age you promised me you'd live to. But if it isn't too much trouble, could you hang around for another couple years? I'm not ready to let you go. I don't think I'll ever be ready to let you go (what's a ship without an anchor?). So, I guess you're just going to have to live forever. But you're superwoman; living forever shouldn't be too hard for you.
I'll be home for a visit soon. I'm going to squeeze you. I'm also going to take pictures of you. And I'm going to spend endless amounts of time telling you how much you mean to me and how damn grateful I am for you. Make sure you have extra batteries for your hearing aids. You have fair warning.
Love 'til bursting,
Woman, you better quit with the near death shit. Yes, I know you're my grandmother and I shouldn't use the word "shit" in your presence, but if you can start swearing then so can I. I also know that I shouldn't start any letter to you with "woman." That was rude of me and I apologize.
But seriously, you can stop with the almost-dying. You aren't allowed to die. You are allowed to not be in pain, and if you have to die in order to not be in pain anymore, then we'll have to figure out a different way to keep you from being in pain. But if you are going to die, you need to wait until I can get back home and squeeze you. And take lots of pictures of you. And listen to your life story.
I want you to know how much you mean to me and how much I love you. I suck at being a long-distance granddaughter, which is why you always had to come and pick me up. Every-other-weekend, you'd make that awful drive to pick me up and bring me back to your house and feed me breakfast in bed. Until I was seventeen. Actually, no. I was eighteen. You didn't get mad when I wet your bed when I was five; you just flipped the mattress and said "accidents happen." You didn't get grossed out when I puked all over your bedroom floor because I'd had too many Halloween cookies. You just got me in the bath and cleaned up the mess.
I guess what I'm trying to say here is that you've always supported me. You've always understood me -- in ways that few other people on this planet do. You kept me safe and made sure that I felt loved.
So, hang in there you stubborn old thing. I'll be home soon for a visit. You better take an extra percoset, because there will be squeezing. And I'm not going to let you kick me out at 7 PM. You're just going to have to be a night owl.
Love you to the moon and back,