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.
HELEN'S ANSWER: Proper thank yous have been a subject of several columns during the past several years. We might need to take another look at why we continue to give gifts if they are not appreciated.
It is really important to express thanks if someone has done something nice for you and gifts fall into that category. We must not become a society of people who expect things to be handed to them without using good manners and respect for the gift-giving in return. Thank yous are not hard. I still think that the people you are gifting should be writing notes of appreciation. If they are not, there are many other people out there who might love to get your gifts and would have the appropriate response.
Parents and/or teachers need to take time to teach good manners to children, otherwise we will continue to lose ground in common courtesies.
GUEST'S ANSWER: Yvette Walker, The Oklahoman Night News Director and University of Central Oklahoma Media Ethics Chair: Sigh. I feel your pain, 20-40-60 reader. But really, it's our own fault. We've let etiquette fall behind as communication has moved into the digital age.
Judith Martin (aka Miss Manners) doesn't have a Twitter handle or an active Facebook page, so what can you expect? Is your smart-phone equipped to receive texts? If not, you might be missing your 'thank yous' because many teens and men seem to have trouble communicating in any other way. Are you on Facebook so you can receive those “likes,” annual birthday wishes and comments on photos you post? You're not? Ah, well.
Fortunately, you give because you want to — so continue your giving and take joy in it. That's the most important thing, right?
To ask an etiquette question, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more 20-40-60 etiquette, go to blog.NewsOK.com/partiesextra.com.