Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thanks

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ~G.K. Chesterton

If G.K. Chesterton was correct, then there isn’t much high level thinking going on these days. The simple act of saying “thank you” seems to be dying and it really bugs me. I have purchased gifts for birthdays, baby showers and retirements. I have wanted to buy the gifts and have put (at least some) thought into buying them. To have the gift never even acknowledged, let alone thanked for is rude and inconsiderate. Finnish people are especially lacking in this area, but then their whole thank you card philosophy is different. In Canada, when you send a thank you card for a wedding gift for example, you mention the specific gift and how you will use it. In Finland, you DO NOT mention the gift because that is considered rude. Why? I have no idea!! I have actually received Finnish “thank you” cards where the couple did not even sign the card. Just a picture and two words of text: thank you. How personal and full of thought (not).
Of course here in the land of Hallmark, there is sometimes a tendency to go to the other extreme. There are cards for every conceivable (and inconceivable) occasion. Sorry about your bad hair cut, congratulations on your dog's first birthday...there are probably even “thank you for the thank you” cards. But I still find that preferable to the silent treatment of the ungrateful. Anyway, even in Canada, despite the plethora of cards available, thank you is becoming a foreign concept. Not only do people not send cards, they don’t even verbally say thanks. A phone call or even an email is the very least you could do when you are in a debt of gratitude.
I am no model for anything, but I really try hard to say thanks when I am given something or someone helps me out. In fact, I make it a point to send handwritten cards whenever possible. Obviously I sent out thank you cards for our wedding presents, baby shower presents, and baby gifts. But I also hand wrote cards for all the “teacher gifts” I received. Even if I hated the gift, I wanted the student (family) that gave it to me to feel like I appreciated the thought and the gesture behind the gift. I guess that’s what it boils down to for me-showing your appreciation for another person. Thank you for thinking of me and spending your money on something you thought that I would like. Or, thank you for being so thoughtful as to do “x” for me, or to make “x” for me. Like G.B stern says, “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.”

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