Appreciating the Thought and the Effort

Carrie Carmichael - New York, New York
Entered on July 28, 2010

Themes: gratitude
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I believe in acknowledgment. I believe in saying thank-you even when you don’t like the present because you appreciate the thought and the effort.

I used to hate writing thank you notes, the post-Christmas torture of my youth. I was forced to write thank you notes—in complete cursive sentences—to some relatives I hardly ever saw for some things I didn’t even like! An outrage! But I grew into an adult who loves to write thank you notes and receive them.

I have not always been gracious about others’ thank you note ethic. “I don’t believe in thank you notes,” a friend said before her wedding. “Well then,” I replied, “I don’t believe you’ll be getting a present from me.” I gave her a thank you facilitation kit of notepapers with her name imprinted, envelopes and stamps. She used it at least once. Amazing we are still friends!

I have evolved from a hectoring manners policewoman. But only about HOW people say thanks. I’ve softened from expecting formal thank you notes to genuinely delight in phone calls and even voice mails that say “what a surprise to get your package” or “thank you for remembering my birthday…graduation” or whatever.

Emails may have Emily Post turning in her urn, but I like them. I just got an e-card thanking me for a birthday celebration.

It is anxiety producing to send presents and get no acknowledgment. An impulsive little gift is minor. But bigger presents for a birthday, graduation, wedding or new baby are something else entirely. Did the store not send it? Did UPS or the USPS let me down? You know where you are with FedEx, receipt-wise, but you know where you are expense-wise, too!

I wonder did the present not arrive in time? Did it get lost in postal limbo? It takes me longer to worry after I’ve sent a baby gift because new parents are short on sleep. I don’t want one of them staying up to write me a note!

One good thing about sending money…a check, not cash…is that your bank will let you know if the check is cashed. You can compare the signatures on the check and thank you note, IF you get both!

What should you do when someone doesn’t say thanks or acknowledge you? Send a self-addressed stamped postcard with a box to check “got the present” and an empty box: “comments would be appreciated”?

I now follow a “Two Strike Rule.” Don’t thank me or acknowledge my gift one time, I will give you a second present because there are many legitimate reasons for one gratitude oversight. However, a second lapse and I adapt the ee cummings attitude toward bad behavior, paraphrased to “there is some rudeness I will not take.” I believe saying thank you is a part of responsible, civilized living.

It may be better to give than to receive, but I believe the giver has the right to receive thanks.