a peek inside the fishbowl

13 Jan, 2011

When the medium is the message

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Oh! Things!|Ottawa|Publishing/writing/career stuff

My piece over at SavvyMom today is about thank-you cards and highlights a really sweet little Ottawa-area e-shop called Dempsey Press.

I’m a paper snob with an undying appreciation for Great Paper Stock. Just like a wine taster swirls wine in a glass to check its legs, I’ve been known to hold various papers between two fingers and give them a thoughtful rub. Dempsey’s cards are the thick and warm letterpress variety, which appeals to the touchy-feely among us. In a word: they are lovely. (And fun! Who doesn’t like robots! And mustaches!)

Paper appreciation is a dying art. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who cares about my paper stock. But what about the art of the finely written thank-you card? Is that dying too?

In parenting circles, the issue of thank-you cards has been known to raise a few hackles. Some people think it’s an outdated practice, that a verbal or email thank-you is adequate response to the receipt of a gift, a meal, or any other kindness. Others believe that only a real honest-to-god thank-you card will do. We are not regular thank-you card writers here at Casa Fishbowl (sorry to disappoint), but I do like the practice, in theory. I can’t deny the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when we receive a thank-you card. Maybe I’ll start writing them more often. What do you think?

10 Responses to "When the medium is the message"

1 | Javamom

January 13th, 2011 at 10:46 am


I’m a believer in combining the old with the new. Why not? We live in a progressive world.

So for us, a thank you card (for many out-of-towners) includes a photo of the kids made into something fun with picnik.com, plus a handwritten note (by me) or a picture and a sentence drawn and written by the kids. (not to self, get some nice paper into the house).

Everyone loves to receive mail, even people who don’t ‘make’ mail.

But we too are not regular practicing thank-you-card people either…;(

2 | FireMom

January 13th, 2011 at 11:30 am


I stink at writing thank you cards. But I try. And I DO love them.

And, oh, I love me some paper. I do.

3 | Nadine

January 13th, 2011 at 12:09 pm


Love the “thank you” card idea , we do it all the time here as my daughter and I both really enjoy drawing and making crafts. We will even come up with new occasions at time just so we can design new cards and this way, we get to spend a few hours at Michael’s just to look for beautiful card stock and supplies. Also, many stores (i.e. Chapters, Pier1) carry thank you cards that are simply exquisite , those are great to give and to receive as well ! E-mails are still better than nothing at all but a card is much more personal and can be put in a scrapbook or a memory box …

4 | Ryan

January 13th, 2011 at 12:18 pm


My wife is a big believer in thank you cards and almost always sends one. Sometimes it’s a postcard to friends, other times a care package as well.

And believe me, you’re not the only paper lover out there. :-)

5 | meanie

January 13th, 2011 at 12:34 pm


I love thank you notes! My 5 year old has a rough time with her letters, her teacher asked us to have practise every night. She’s writing a thank you note a day for her Xmas gifts – kill two birds with one stone!

The challenge is me putting a stamp on the envelope and actually sending the damn things!

I think it’s a lovely gesture – who doesn’t love getting mail?

6 | andrea

January 13th, 2011 at 12:54 pm


We have the same challenge with stamps. Apparently they sell giant rolls of stamps at Costco. Might be worth the investment!!

7 | Marianne

January 13th, 2011 at 4:39 pm


I write thank you notes for Christmas and birthday gifts. When I was growing up my mother made up write one thank you note per day starting on boxing day until all our thank yous were complete (though youc oudl do more than one if you wanted to). Every year she’d tell us how when she was a child she wasn’t allowed to play with a new gift until after the thank you had been written. I must say I dont’ write notes to anyone whom I see in eprson, just those living out of town.

I wish I could say I was the sort of person who also sends random thank you notes in response to nice things done by someone just because, but … well, I’m just not that organized. Although a few times I’ve popped one into the office mailslot of a co-worker to express my appreciation.

Now that you can buy permanent Canadian postage stamps — that is, they don’t expire even if the postage rate goes up — I buy several books of stamps all at once. A giant roll might actually be a good idea — though I’m sure they’re nto exculsive to Costco.

8 | Alison p-h

January 13th, 2011 at 9:35 pm


I love paper and I love receiving mail too! In fact I make (& sell) my own greeting cards because I just have so much paper. But that doesn’t stop me from buying cards because there are so many awesome cards out there.

But my goal this year is to write more cards “just because”. I just heard about a challenge that some blogs are doing. It is called 52 letters, 52 weeks. I am going to try to do it.

And my parents were just like Marianne’s (#7) and thank you notes were started just after Christmas & birthdays.

Thanks Andrea for highlighting a local letterpress company!

9 | Jen_nifer

January 14th, 2011 at 11:54 am


I too love good paper stock, but am not big into Thank You notes/cards. I give them for traditional occassions (Baby Shower or Wedding), but generally give verbal or email thank yous for other gifts. We have our son call out of town relatives and friends who send gifts to thank them.

10 | Binki

January 14th, 2011 at 12:46 pm


When we were kids, we HAD to write thank you letters after Christmas, birthdays, etc. My father sternly dictated them to us with perfect grammar and spelling. That was a bit nuts but the practice of hand-writing notes has stuck with me. A hand-written note is special. I send them and I appreciate getting them. I read somewhere that the proper thing to do after a dinner-party is a next-day “thanks that was swell” phone call. I think a follow up is important but these days it’s not a call but an email.
About stamps….Canada has some super nice, interesting stamps. Hit the post office a few times a year and get the wow stamps. It makes the medium even more special.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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