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?

Giving Gifts

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. kidtocamp

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?????

5 thoughts on “Gift Giving, Thank-you’s, and all the Rest

  1. I don’t know to who you are giving to that does not have the manners to tell you thank you, but I can tell by just going out how different the people that are raising their children today is so lenient . I know I am being very general here but I’m just saying what I see. I thought I was lenient with my children but they were taught manners. My parents were so strict my sisters and I behaved out of fear, I don’t believe in that method. We can’t even go to a restaurant and have a dinner without the children walking around the tables, screaming, annoying. I’m not talking about a family restaurant, but a nice restaurant where some people have to save up to go.
    I am not a grouchy old lady either I am just amazed how ill mannered these people and their children are.

  2. Hi Annice,

    I am also in my 50’s and feel sad that the simple action of saying “thank you” seems to be lost. So, I also suggest that the next time you want to give a gift, go to your local food bank or other charity and make a donation in the name of the person that you “had” intended to give the gift too. You can let the person know that you did this or not, but be happy in the fact that those that need a “gift” just to live another day, will appreciate it more than you could ever imagine. That in itself is your “thank you”. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

  3. I have a feeling that you are not alone. In fact, just about everyone I know has a similar feeling…it’s tough because one wants to give, but if it is not acknowledged, well, what are the options? To not give, to call to find out if they got the gift, or to just be ok with giving. It is sad, and I wish it were different.

  4. Annice–I agree with you a lot. To me a thank you is part of a personal transaction. Unfortunately, it does seem as if some folks feel entitled to a gift for whatever reason. I think that receiving a gift graciously is a gift in return to the original giver and that is the real gift giving transaction. Anyway in my opinion it is the thought that counts not the actual gift.

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