Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The lost art of saying thank you

I can remember when I was a wee slip of a lass writing not thank you cards, but thank you letters to people. My mom taught me from very early on that when someone is gracious enough to take the time and/or money to give you a gift, you need to say thank you.

It was called having manners.

These days, it seems that saying thank you has gone the way of the dodo bird. We have been to probably 10 birthday parties in the past year. I can count on two fingers the number of thank you cards we've received. In these cases, my issue isn't with not receiving the thank you, it's the fact that these moms and dads are missing a chance to teach their child a fabulous lesson.

We just celebrated not one, but two birthdays; Elise's and Mattias's. And today I took the time while Mattias was asleep to work on the thank you cards. I called Elise over and told her what we we're going to do, and why we were doing it. I wrote the message, and she coloured the card and signed her name.

She was very into the project and wanted to know who each card was going to and what she wanted me to say. What I hope she takes away from our little project together is that you should never be too busy to say thank you.

Right after Elise was diagnosed with diabetes, a few people brought us dinners. To this day it eats at me that I never sent out thank you cards. Oh, I wrote them... even kept them for over a year afterwards. But at the time I was too overwhelmed to try and find their addresses. It seems like such a small thing, but if you've ever faced anything as devastating as being told your 12 month old child will have a dangerous chronic illness for the rest of their lives, then you understand that something as simple as finding an address can be huge.

So I kept the cards, hoping that one day I could send them. But by the time I was able to get the addresses, too much time had passed and I felt silly.

In retrospect, I should have sent them. I think a thank you is always appreciated, no matter how late.

Recently, our house became a two-dog residence for about three hours. One very HOT afternoon, I looked out into our backyard to see a cute, small white dog running around. We don't have a back fence, and the land behind us is a huge open field that bobcats and coyotes like to frequent. So I grabbed the dog and brought her inside.

She had no collar, but our 'hood is very close knit, and I emailed around to find the owner. I then left it in the very capable hands of our neighbourhood matriarch, M and she came over to take ownership of the dog until the real owner could be found. Although cute, she was a yappy thing and Mattias needed to nap. I'm talking about the dog, not M.

To make a very long story short, the owner was eventually found (when she showed up at another neighbour's house asking about the dog, and this neighbour had remembered my email), and all is well that ended well.

Except, I have no idea who the dog belonged to. I never received a call. A knock on my door. Nary a thank you of any kind. Nada.

I wasn't expecting a parade in my honour, but left to it's own devices, that pup could have become roadkill or a tasty morsel for a wild critter. Not too mention it was 107 degrees out. I could have said, "let someone else deal with it".

Maybe I'm old fashioned. Perhaps being gracious is over-rated. Why take the time to thank someone for real when you can facebook or twitter them (dude, that sounds sooooo dirty).

I guess this is why I always find boxes of thank you cards on clearance at Target. Nothing like saying thank you for 75% off!

Just one more thing to blame on social media...


Heidi / D-Tales said...

I am SO with you on this one. I feel strongly about thank you notes and tell my kids the exact same thing that your mother told you.

If someone had saved my dog, I would have been so grateful! I would have found you and sent you a note, if not something more!!!

I love buying boxes of note cards on sale at Target, too!!! :)

shannon said...

oh man yeah i feel the same way about thank you cards! my mom taught me in what sounds like the same way your mom did you, and you're doing with elise. it's something that makes me smile and feel closer to my mom whenever i do it.

glad you helped that dog out!

sky0138 said...

so agree with you on this one! i had a similar situation with a lost dog this summer and the owner actually picked the dog up from my house and never said thank you...kinda crazy

Laura@Cowboy Boots said...

i'm that way....i expect my children to write thank you cards. it's a matter of respect for the person who took the time to think of you.

now i've got guilt..i forgot to send TY's to the ppl who brought dinner to us after Reid was born. I'm off to write notes...7.5 months later is never too late right? haah

Kim said...

So...I switched web browsers a few months ago, and just realized that I am way behind on your posts.

This post makes me feel so guilty. I love thank you notes too, but truly suck, and I mean that in the meanest sense of the word, at getting them out. I have the best of intentions and probably a couple hundred thank you notes around my house.

Problem? I think of it while I'm driving or working or in the bathroom, etc. I never think of it when I can actually do it. :(

Do you know that I have a thank you card on my desk for you and Fred? Ended up being a thank you email. Lame!

Keep teaching your children these awesome lessons! You are amazing!