I have two connected, minor stories which are both about how one says thank you.
When I was eight, my great-grandmother sent me a card saying just “You are an unappreciative little brat.” Why? Because I called her on the phone to thank her for her card the year before, rather than writing a long note. I hated writing in cursive, and I loved it when she told stories on the phone. Letters and cards felt horribly boring and impersonal to me as a seven year old, where everything was more fun if you could hear someone or see them. I honestly thought I was doing something nice. That was the last time we talked to her before she died, and I feel sort of bad for her that she drove off my entire part of the family with that one act.
When I was sixteen, my best friend’s mother had a habit of going to put-and-takes (free swap-spots for the wealthy on Nantucket island) where you could just pick through and take whatever you liked. Now, best friend was 5’6″ and 190lbs. I was 5’4″ and 103lbs. Her mother would come back with a suitcase of clothing for me, and one or two things for her daughter saying, “Well there was hardly anything to fit YOU.” I felt awkward and uncomfortable, but I said (and I remember it clearly), “Wow! I really appreciate the clothing, Mrs. X!”
Skip forward two months, and my best friend, still mad about how much her mother dotes on me, lays into me for not thanking her mother. I’m all confused – because I did! And she goes, “No, you said I APPRECIATE IT. Not THANK YOU.” Call me insane, but isn’t saying you actively like something you were given better than an empty two word gesture?
I’m all for politeness, and all for following etiquette – but if the thought counts when someone gives me a gift and I HAVE to thank them.. Shouldn’t the thought count when I thank them for it? 0707-10