WHAT UP WITH DAT?
I get pissed off when people can't say thank you.
For instance: Several years ago, my husband and I received a graduation announcement from the son of a couple we used to see on social occasions. We had lost touch with them. But twenty years later come one May, we received the announcement that their son was graduating. We sent a check and a card. But the graduate never bothered to send a thank you note.
More recently, we received a graduation notice from the son of a couple we had known three decades ago. Three decades ago! We only stay in touch with Christmas cards and they live hundreds of miles away. WTF? Or as Kenan Thompson of SNL would say: What up with dat?
Maybe they sincerely thought we'd like to know about his achievement. But honestly, it felt more like they were asking for a gift. And if we were to send a check, what are the chances we'd receive a thank you note? I'm pretty sure the graduate would never acknowledge the gift. Now, I could be wrong. He may be a very nice kid who plans to tell friends and relatives he's grateful they thought about him at this momentous occasion.
But my gut feeling (and cynicism and experience) tells me otherwise.
Ingratitude happens on many occasions. Take weddings: My husband and I drove nine hours to Washington, D.C. to celebrate a cousin's wedding. We sent them an expensive gift and never heard a peep from them. Take birthdays: We sent generous restaurant gift cards to our nephews. Neither one of them wrote a thank you note.
I'm not sure why ingratitude is so prevalent. Have parents forgotten to teach their kids to say thank you? Or do kids feel they don't need to say thank you?
According Theology of Work, "ingratitude wrongs the one who should have received thanks. But there is another penalty that is paid when we are ungrateful. We lose the opportunity to delight in the blessings of our lives. We deny ourselves the joy that comes to us when we give others the joy that comes from our thanks. Ingratitude deprives the one who should offer thanks of a deeper, richer, fuller experience of life's goodness. So, ingratitude hurts the one who should receive thanks and the one who should give it. Not surprisingly, therefore, it also fails to nourish the relationship between the two parties. Whereas, a word of thanks can build intimacy and trust; thanks neglected creates distance and guardedness."
When I was young, my mom insisted that we write thank you notes for the gifts that we received. My husband and I taught our daughter to do the same thing. This may not be the practice these days. Attitudes have changed. And then again...
My husband thanks me for the meals I cook each night. Writers thank me when I waive the editorial fee. Friends and grocery clerks thank me when I surprise them with flowers or a gift card.
So, when I think of those who are less grateful, I remember others who are appreciative. They may say thank you by writing a short note, giving me a call, or sending an email. They get it. Showing gratitude is not hard. It's a beautiful gesture and it's the right thing to do.
À la prochaine!