Are thank yous dead?

I am afraid a rant is coming on. I know, it's hard to believe that I would complain about something. But here I go...

It seems to me that expressing thankfulness has gone by the wayside. Or, at the very least, people showing their appreciation is more the exception rather than the rule. 

Apparently, it is too much for the people checking me out at Giant Eagle to say thanks (in all fairness, I don't live near one of those fancy-shmancy Iggles, where perhaps they do say thank you). It is not as if I am looking for "have a nice day." Just a simple, even if insincere, thank you would do. But considering that most of the cashiers don't even bother to speak to me, I am probably asking for the impossible.

And I bet not much more than half of the kids in the cafeteria bothered to say thanks when I handed them a requested napkin or spoon or helped them open something the numerous times I volunteered in the cafeteria this past school year. As many times as I have had to remind Jordan to say thanks to someone, I guess I should not be surprised that so many children fail to do so.

And how about the people that I let pull out in front of me in traffic? I expect every single one of them to give me a thank-you wave or a courtesy beep of the horn. Not half of them. Not most of them. All of them. How hard is it raise your hand in appreciation? I am not looking for a hug!

But my biggest pet peeve is when I (or Jordan) bring a gift to a party that is never acknowledged. I have no problem when gifts are not opened at parties, particularly large events. But if the feted person opens the gifts and cards in private, then she misses out on saying thank you to the gift-giver right on the spot. Considering how apparently challenging it is for people to write and send thank-you notes these days, one would think people would much rather do the in-person thank you while opening the gifts. And to be clear, I don't care how my gift or attendance is acknowledged (in person, on the phone, via a personal note), just so long as it is.

A mother recently told me that her kid had too many thank yous to write because she had such a big party. I kept silent, when I really wanted to tell her that if could not acknowledge those gifts in a reasonable amount of time, then maybe she should not be having such big parties.

What is reasonable? IMO, within a month seems pretty fair. Perhaps two if you had a large party (weddings seem to buy you even more time). Just over 12 years ago, I managed to write thank-you notes for wedding gifts from 150 invited guests within a month, which I realize is pretty darn expedient. But I am still waiting for a thank you note for a party Jordan attended last summer (yeah, I don't really think that one is coming). And Jordan was one of about 15 kids at a party two months ago and no thank you there either. Regardless, I am all for "better late than never," having sent a thank-you note a few years after the fact and being late for other occasions. (See this and that sad blog posts from July 2008. I really have gotten better, which perhaps makes me like those former smokers who constantly berate current smokers.)

Feel free to tell me I am being too nit-picky and that I expect too much of people. But even if saying or sending thanks is no longer the norm, I am still going to try my best to continue down the path of gratitude when I can.

You're welcome!


chris h. said…
I'm with you! Huge pet peeve. I blame parents for kids not writing thank you's -- it's a skill and a practice that would serve them their whole lives and it just gets ignored. Same with the sullen store clerks and the "it's all about me" drivers. A little courtesy goes a long way, and it's so easy. My mom prodded me to say "thank you" so much as a child (even before I could spit it out) that I probably OVER-thank, but is that such a bad thing? Don't think so. Saying it is a little reminder, every day, that the world doesn't revolve around you.
LaLa said…
Entitlement, plain and simple. Kids have a birthday party with presents every single year so of course the gifts are a given. Kids are coddled by their parents and EVERYTHING is done for them so why say thanks. These kids become teens and young adults and just KNOW they are better than whatever job they have so why do anything but the very least. And if kids don't grow up this way, they are bitter so they end up with poor manners for different reasons. Tis a sad world.
Facie said…
Chris: I don't think you can over thank. I have to hope that with all my prodding with Jordan, she will become more consistent with her thanking in general (I do make her write thank you notes). When kids are young, the fault lies with the parents. If they don't teach them gratitude, how will the kids ever learn it?

LaLa: I do think that way too many people feel entitled. I have seen many spoiled kids who just don't appreciate anything. I will not be surprised if they grow up just as you say. And I can think of a few adults who were spoiled as kids who act like the world owes them a living. Sad.
Bill Applegate said…
Hum, this is a tough one…usually I agree with just about all your entries…and I am struggling what to write on this one. Okay, I will just come right out with it…I hate writing Thank You notes…okay, I said it, now let me explain why.

Every party, get-together, event, engagement, dinner, wedding you name it I make a point to go seek out the host / hostess and personally thank them for inviting me / us. If it’s a wedding or something else formal, I also make a point to seek out the parents and also thank them for graciously inviting us.

When my kids attend a birthday party I make a point to have them go and thank the parents who invited us and tell the person “happy birthday”. I don’t expect a note in return…I don’t know why but I just don’t. Now for weddings and such of course thank you notes are standard protocol but for kids b-day parties I don’t write them…and don’t expect them in return.

Personally I much more appreciate a heartfelt “thank you” in person as opposed to getting a card but that’s just me.
Facie said…
Bill: I think we are pretty much in agreement; thank-you notes are necessary only if you are not thanked in some other way [see my "I don't care how my gift or attendance is acknowledged (in person, on the phone, via a personal note), just so long as it is" sentence].

When I referred to the thank-you notes we are still waiting for, I should have explicitly said that the gifts/cards we brought were not opened at the party. In one case, the party was at a restaurant, so for all I know, my card could have been dropped/lost.

When you have parties for your girls, do they open the gifts and thank the gift-givers then? If so, that seems perfectly fine (Jordan did that for her communion party). But if the gifts are not opened and you only say thanks for coming, then that is where we part ways. IMO, you need to send the note.

I also thank the host whenever I/we are at a party (and have Jordan do the same). Before I had a kid, I hardly ever did that, but I am glad I started to. Hopefully, all or at least most of your wedding guests did that! :-)

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