What ever happened to the standard, yet wonderful, act of writing a thank-you note when someone has gone out of his or her way to do something nice? Or simply picking up that old-school technology device called the telephone to personally state one’s appreciation?
I know most people do not utilize actual pen and paper when it comes to expressing their gratitude anymore, instead choosing to take the easy road and send a quick text or email to say thanks. Many others, unfortunately, take no road at all.
If you look back in time, there appears to be a negative trend emerging. We have gone from nice, long letters, to personal phone calls, to quick texts or emails, to – in many cases in my life – nothing at all.
In my day, the thank-you note was not only expected, there were actual unwritten rules that went with it. The note had to be completed within a week after receiving a gift for a birthday or Christmas; a wedding gift was allotted six months to a year.
I know that you give a gift because you want to and because you want to bring a little joy and happiness to those you love, but wouldn’t it be nice if you were at least told a little bit about that joy? Or at least acknowledged for the effort?
The fact that technology makes things easier for us is no excuse. Nor is the fact that most of us receive a lot of gifts for special occasions and in our busy lives it’s hard to get back to everyone. It’s a lamentable indifference or an aloofness that has emerged over time.
And this doesn’t just apply to gift-giving. I have found that even an act of charity does not always elicit any form of gratitude. For my 70th birthday, I decided to have my friends send donations to an elementary school at which I volunteer. They did this in lieu of gifts to me and through the goodness of their hearts.
Not one of them received a thank you back from the school. I continue to volunteer since I do it for the children, but knowing nobody on the staff even acknowledged their kind acts does make it a bit harder to show up at the school each day.
I must admit, however, that last year there was a nice exception to the trend. I again asked my friends to forgo any birthday gift to myself and instead make a donation (if they wanted to) to a local charity that lends support to low-income families. Not only did they all receive a thank-you note back from the nonprofit, they also received notes from the actual families their money went to help.
To this, I just had to say, “Wow!” I don’t care if the main drive behind this was to solicit more money out of these benefactors, it was still refreshing to see and hear about. In fact, if that was the main reason, I just have to say – it worked. I now recommend this charity on my birthday and each Christmas. (There’s another great reason to write a thank-you note – more money and gifts!)
We are all busy and we easily get sidetracked in this technology-driven world, but that’s no reason for us to forget our manners. The times may be changing, but that doesn’t mean we should.
Whether it’s just because you are a good human being, or because you want the gifts to continue in the future, I suggest we all – especially my kids and grandkids – once again engage in that wonderful act of expressing our gratitude with a handwritten thank-you note.
By the way, I am still awaiting thank-you notes from two sons and three grandchildren for past birthdays and holidays. Sure hope for their sakes something comes by Dec. 25th.
– BizarroGuy’s Mother
P.S. Along these same lines, what ever happened to the nice customary hand wave to say thanks when someone lets you merge in front of them?