I've forever been on the edge of my seat in and around birthdays and anniversaries (or any special occason, for that matter) because of the convention that birthday cards must always arrive on time, they must be well-written, and contain the appropriate level of sentiment.
I don't disagree with the principle. A well-worded note thanking or congratulating me, relaying well-wishes and heartfelt emotions is always appreciated, but how meaningful and/or sincere is it when you feel obligated? When you've been badgered beyond comprehension to make sure you've sent that missive, that thank you note (from someone unseen since you sported diapers) because it's expected, or because you'll embarass the badgerer? She's not wrong... certain conventions are very important, however her methods have weakened the integrity of the social contract that previously ensured pen pressed against paper.
It has come to a point where I purposely deliver handwritten notes late, or at least via some speedy and expensive shipping method. The note or card gets there the day of, and I've fulfilled the social contract made so onerous due to the simple fact that I'll be made to feel guilty, that I obviously don't respect, care or consider the feelings of the person I'm supposed to be sending the birthday card to (weeks early if someone had her way).
And that's just birthday cards... in the wake of my firstborn, many thank yous were sent out. Deservedly so. However a certain someone actively contacting HER friends who sent gifts and well wishes to make sure that a note has, or in my case hasn't, been sent? How does that make sense? I'll send it. Don't worry. No, I haven't sent it yet. But I will. Honest. Any day now. I swear the estimated postal time exponentially increases everytime I'm asked/prodded/preached to, so you're not helping.
Once sent, a call (not a note, mind you) follows from a certain someone, thanking me for finally getting them out, and acknowledging how well-written and nice the were... nice, too, that she can proudly think "MY boy has manners... not like so-and-so." What her friends were thinking before the note arrived, who can say. It must have been bad, though. I mean, c'mon... that's pretty bad stuff. Not writing a thank you note immediately after the gift (from a person I don't really know) arrived?
Again, don't get me wrong. I believe in the convention... I just don't believe in guilting someone to believe in it. Is that so wrong? There are a healthy number of social conventions and contracts that we already have to follow... my life is communications and messages, should I be condemned if the birthday card gets there a day late? Apparently. Too bad I can manage to tweet/skype/blog/and, surprisingly, work throughout my life, but I can't write or mail a letter.