QUESTION: I am perplexed. I was taught by my mom to “always write a thank you note or express verbal thanks to the giver” whenever I received a gift — for birthday, Christmas, birth of baby, wedding or shower, etc. All my friends are now married and have grown-up children, so the gifts I'm taking are for grandchildren of friends, wedding/baby showers for younger women at church who are acquaintances or dinner for church women who are homebound due to illness or pregnancy.
After giving 50 or 60 gifts like this, I could count on my right hand the number of times I've been thanked either by card, phone or verbally. All of them were women above 50. Although I give because I want to, I'm just wondering if an entire generation from 16 to 40 years of age has missed a “courtesy lesson” of simply saying “thanks,” or have I missed out on a revolution in appropriate manners?
CALLIE'S ANSWER: I am very guilty of this! It is hard to write thank-you notes every time I get a gift. I should, everyone knows they should. I need to get back into the habit of this.
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: You haven't missed anything, and yes, all of us should be offering thanks for gifts we receive. I'm good at the verbal part and am genuinely thankful to dear friends for their thoughtfulness in giving gifts. However, in recent years, I have not been as good at the written notes part, although I'm working on it. I always want to take my time to write the perfect note. Then time slips away.
The age group you mentioned is extremely busy — whether they have school activities or are juggling children and a career, a lot competes for their attention. Although that is not an excuse, it may offer an explanation. Your question is a good reminder of what we should be doing anyway, but you also answered it yourself — A gift is given because the giver wants to, whether they get the proper acknowledgement or not. If you get tired of the giving or it's not appreciated, then rethink why you're still doing so.
And to all of the people who have not received a thank-you note from me in recent years, I appreciate you. For now, please consider this column as an (improper) thank-you instead; hopefully, the perfect note from me will be in the mail soon.