Friday, April 16, 2010

Caffeinated Randomness: Gratitude...the lack thereof...

A tiny tirade for your Caffeinatedly Random pleasure....

There are many topics of etiquette that are falling by the wayside even in *ahem* polite society. I have written passionately about this subject before...where I accuse many of my generation to be too busy to be grateful. Truthfully, I consider the lack of thank you writing to show a total lack of gratitude altogether.

I'm not talking about the solitary thank you that you might have forgotten to send. Yes, you are remiss at not sending it...and probably still should but no, that's not what I'm caring to address. It's the weddings, birthdays, graduations, showers...where large sums of money are expected to be dumped without any shown gratitude at all.

I adore my Real Simple Magazine and pore over it's contents most happily. I was at first surprised by THIS article where the writer for Modern Manners suggests that there be a "no-opening-gifts-in-public-policy" because it is "a bore to watch someone else open presents, and it’s just as agonizing for the recipient, who has to ooh and aah at the right decibel over and over again. And then there’s always someone who is going to feel self-conscious about what she brought once she sees everyone else’s offerings. "

Truthfully, I think the reason I initially balk at such a suggestion is that it is often ALL I have to hope for in way of gratitude/thanks for the gift I'm giving. I desire to know if the gift, I so carefully selected, was to their liking. Most recently however, I've heard the sentiment that a person shouldn't be pressured to lie about gifts they receive and don't like. I think that this is missing the point of gratitude entirely. Gratitude-a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation. Evidently, it is too much to ask that a person show thankfulness and appreciation at the receiving of a free gift...no matter how ugly, cheap, duplicate, etc.

I was delighted to find the perfect gift for an approaching bridal shower in our church. I shared my excited anticipation with the bride-to-be...and also had the blessed, calm opportunity to address this issue, so dear to my heart. I was delighted that she shared my sentiments almost exactly...and had the thank-yous from her family shower completed and posted. Brava! I wish all my admonitions were so received.

To put a final spin on this topic...I must say that as I composed this tiny tirade I was personally convicted at what level of grateful I am daily showing for the FREE GIFT bought for me, at so high a price.

Eph. 2:8-9, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast."

2 Cor. 9:15, "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"

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9 comments:

Amydeanne said...

you know, this is something i've been drilling into my kids.. manners of appreciation... to say it, and i try to say it to them.. the thank-yous and to appreciate it even if it's Not their favorite.. because people worked hard and put effort into it.. great post!

Barbara H. said...

Well -- I have mixed emotions on this one. But first off, let me say that yes, I do feel gratitude should be expressed, thank you notes written ,etc. And I don't feel that watching other people open gifts is boring. I think it's fun! Though here usually gifts are opened at showers, etc., but not at weddings, I think maybe because of the time with so much other stuff going on.

However -- one year at one church in our Secret Sister program, the emphasis was a little too much on gifts -- at most churches it's more about praying for each other with small little tokens given throughout the year. We filled out a form at the beginning of the year with our favorite colors, etc., and mine were pastels, usually pink. My secret sister kept giving me earth-colored stuff, usually with rust in it. At some point when the topic of the secret sister guidelines came up with the pastor's wife, this lady said something like, "Oh, I never pay attention to those things." It's hard to be grateful for the "thought behind the gift" when there apparently isn't any, but I did thank her at then end of the year anyway (I think. I can't specifically remember writing a thank you note, but that was my usual practice.)

There was one Christmas an extended family member got everyone pillowcases -- regardless of color or pattern. I had a hard time figuring that one out until I realized the stuff her husband used on his hair probably got their pillow cases all greasy, and she figured that was a problem for everyone. Plus she would not have minded mismatching pillow cases, thinking no one would ever see them, so it wouldn't matter.

I take a great deal of time, thought, and care in choosing gifts and don't understand people who just get what they like without regard to what the recipient likes or gets something, anything, just to get something. But I can and do appreciate that they got something and spent time, money, and effort on me when they didn't have to. Yet I wouldn't expect a bride to love everything she has received equally, though she should express gratitude to the giver.

On the other side of the coin, though, as a giver I have wanted to give not just an ordinary gift, but a special gift, and wanted the recipient to ooh and ahh -- and I had to realize that some of that was pride on my part, wanting the validation that I had done a good job and chosen well. It's not wrong to want to get a just-right gift and to even want gratitude for it, but I know for me I have to remind myself it's not about me.

I also appreciate people who put gift receipts with their cards and gifts as standard procedure now, understanding that even with gift registries which are supposed to help avoid duplicates, sometimes they don't always work. I'd much rather a bride or other recipient feel free to take back what I gave them if it doesn't work for them than expect them to keep it in a closet for years until they feel they can safely put it in a yard sale.

I am SO glad that God's gifts are perfect and tailor-made.

Carmel said...

Hmmm... was just having this conversation with a gal at MTO and it wasn't you! : )

I personally am teaching my children to say thank you, regardless of whether it's the exact one they wanted, the right color, etc. Most of the time people are getting you something b/c they are thinking of you and that's special.


I too don't have much appreciation for gifts that aren't for me, but something you like and wanted to give to me.... be thinking about who you are giving it to... that being said, sometimes I feel that attached gift receipts are tacky. I don't understand why there are SO MANY people in line for returns at Christmas... unless of course people are just grabbing junk w/ no thought to who they're giving it too... it's a paradox.

I do enjoy thank yous and sending them.. I think they're important. Like too many things in our culture, it's all give me, just like the people who race around you to pass, who don't look behind and hold the door open for the mother with a stroller and 2 other children with her, the gentlemen (even the older ones mind you) who don't stand and give their seat to an obviously about to burst pregnant woman... the list goes on.

Home's Where My Heart Is said...

I appreciated this post. It's disappointing that we've come to live in such an ungrateful society where gifts aren't always received with appreciation but expectancy. And then there are those that feel entitled to everything. So, when a note of gratitude does arrive I love it.

And yes, I got some steel wool in my eye, but just one speck. Everything is fine, but it's kind of scratchy stuff:)

Hope you have a great weekend,
Erin

Karen said...

Not writing a thank you note is a pet peeve of mine...I have been told I am too "old school" concerning this...well...maybe I am, but thankfulness and appreciation should always be shown to others....

Liz said...

We are an ungrateful people. I can't believe some would suggest just chucking the whole idea of opening gifts in public. Why is that the solution? Shouldn't the real solution be that the recipient be gracious because anyone was kind enough to give them something special, no matter what it is?

e-Mom said...

You really hit a nerve for your commenters above. It's interesting Bobbi, because I was at another blog earlier today (To Love, Honor, and Vacuum) and Sheila was "ranting" about the exact same topic!

I left a lengthy comment over there, and I won't try to duplicate it here. Suffice to say, I love to receive all kinds of gifts, and I do send proper thank you notes in a timely fashion.

But many don't. A dear friend waited until February to thank me for a Christmas gift I sent by mail. She offered no apologies, just an excuse about putting inadequate postage on her letter. 'Nuff said.

Have a blessed weekend! :~D

Karen said...

You mentioned in your comment on my blog that you have a diffuser for loose leaf tea. I have a teapot that has a diffuser in it. Loose leaf tea does make a good cuppa. Even I though I predominantly drink coffee, I definitely enjoy a good cup of English Breakfast with cream and sugar.

Have a great weekend!

Critty said...

:) I so agree. I guess I am considered old fashion as I agree with all of these things. I am a stickler for a thank you note....and even though at times I send them digitally (I create them in photoshop) it is personal and I cannot help but think of how I feel when I don't get a thank you note.

Manners and things are a big thing for me. I work with teens and oh my....so many of them have no manners! Sad.