Gift Giving, Thank-you’s, and all the Rest
I’ve been thinking a lot about gift giving lately. Maybe it’s because there’s a lot of it in June. Birthdays, graduations, baby showers, Father’s day, new jobs, retirement, and just a lot to celebrate. Coupled with all those celebrations and gifts, I have noticed the lack of thank-you’s over the years and that makes me feel sad. I know I shouldn’t expect anything in return when I give a gift, and believe me, that’s not why I give, but what about a simple no frills thank you letting me know the gift was in fact received? I find it embarrassing to call to find out if my gift ever arrived. And, if it was a check or gift card, why do I have to log into my bank account to verify if my gift was debited, leaving me with the feeling of having just paid my utility bills? Don’t get me wrong, I have lowered my expectations – I certainly don’t expect a hand-written note. Heaven’s no! They are somewhat inconvenient to write and then there's the stamp and the post office. But, how about a voice mail or even a 3 letter text that says thx?
Thank-you starts with parents teaching little ones what a gift is, and that a gift is not a requirement. It is not an obligation to give either, and one is not naturally entitled to receive a gift. This is an important lesson in giving and receiving, not to mention gratitude. I will admit that Baby Boomers (and generations before us) learned to write thank you notes at a very early age – in fact, as soon as we learned to write. But since kids don’t actually learn to write anymore, I’m very willing to accept a digital note. Something! Anything!
I am not totally alone in my thoughts. I have conducted a very informal survey and talked to women over 50 who have told me if they don’t receive a thank you (in any format) – they simply stop sending that person a gift. One friend had a great solution for the non-thanker. The next time she is “expected to give a gift,” she makes a donation to her favorite charity in that person’s name. What a concept. Here is what Cicero has to say: "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." Let me know your thoughts – am I unrealistic?????