Author Topic: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes  (Read 3864 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

audrey1962

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4322
Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« on: June 28, 2013, 12:59:33 PM »
http://www.freep.com/article/20130628/FEATURES01/306280008/thank-you-notes-gratitude-acknowledging-gifts-puzzled-giver

"I think something else important happened that doesn’t get enough credit for the clear trend toward unacknowledged gifts: Stuff matters less." Carolyn Hax goes on to say that we have become immune to our possessions and that may be part of the reason for the lack of thank you notes today.

I must admit, I have never heard this point of view before.

Other thoughts?

rose red

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7549
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2013, 01:26:09 PM »
While I see some truth in that theory, I still believe you learn what you're taught.  For example, my best friend's children have everything under the sun and I still spoil them with gifts whenever I visit.  They always give me a hug and a thank you.  They also proudly love to draw pictures and writing thank you notes.

On the other hand, a relative's kids accept my gifts as their due without uttering a single thanks and the parents say nothing.  I don't spoil them like I do the kids above and haven't given them anything for a while.

RebeccainGA

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1207
  • formerly RebeccainAR
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2013, 01:28:26 PM »
I think to some degree I agree with her. I know when I was a kid, getting a gift was a big deal. Now, if I get a gift of stuff, I sometimes thing 'gee, why would someone buy me that?' or I end up never using it and mildly resenting that I now have another thing to dispose of. Especially when it's clear that the giver put no thought into it. Now, if someone gave me a gift I could really use (like a massage or a housecleaner for a day) or something I really love (like origami paper or some really soft sheets for the bed) I would be thrilled. I think we are at a point where unless that gift is meaningful to us, we start comparing it to the other things we really could use instead, and calculating the waste on the item. When getting a shirt or a book is adding 10% of your total inventory of those items, it's a big deal. When adding another book means you'll have to find room for it on one of your ten bookcases full, it's not so meaningful.

This is, incidentally, why we've cut down on giving gifts of obligation for things like birthdays. We do Christmas gifts, but they're food usually (I bake a ton). I also do things like picking up a vintage doll for my grandmother or a pair of earrings I know my mom will love for no reason, because I know the things will be appreciated.

Venus193

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 15852
  • Backstage passes are wonderful things!
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2013, 01:36:25 PM »
While I see some truth in that theory, I still believe you learn what you're taught.  For example, my best friend's children have everything under the sun and I still spoil them with gifts whenever I visit.  They always give me a hug and a thank you.  They also proudly love to draw pictures and writing thank you notes.

On the other hand, a relative's kids accept my gifts as their due without uttering a single thanks and the parents say nothing.  I don't spoil them like I do the kids above and haven't given them anything for a while.

I agree with this. 

Part of the problem is that there are now more gift-oriented "holidays" than there were 25 years ago.  When I was a child there was Christmas, one's birthday, and graduations.  Easter and Halloween were about candy, Valentine's Day didn't matter much to children, and there was no "goody bag" at other kids' birthday parties.  Sometimes there were gifts if relatives took foreign vacations, but they weren't expensive things.

Gift-giving has gotten totally out of hand in recent years.  But rudeness has also increased.

audrey1962

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4322
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2013, 01:46:00 PM »
That's an excellent point Venus.

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 30504
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2013, 01:46:46 PM »
I think she's right!

I make my kids write thank-you notes for any gift they don't open in the presence of the person, and especially for cash gifts (European family--aunts & uncles hand over envelopes of cash). I once observed, when they got a very unexpected cash gift from an aunt, that they probably get these gifts because of the thank you notes.

My daughter said, "what, like a vending machine? Insert money; get thank-you note?" We laughed.

Then the next time there was a gift-giving occasion, and she got envelopes w/ money, she said, "I don't really need this money, is it bad that I sort of wish people wouldn't give it to me so I had to write thank-you notes?"

She's totally happy with good wishes, etc. And she's generally a gracious kid.

And in my experience, there are way too many gifts being given.

And yes, stuff is just less important. Every single person I know has too much stuff. Some of them, WAY too much stuff. And most of what they're given, they don't really need.

magicdomino

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4608
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2013, 02:01:58 PM »
I read that this morning, and I can see her point.  Now all of us, including Carolyn Hax, agree that indifference doesn't excuse people from at least sending an email or making a phone call. 

But Stuff is so easy to get.  For instance, when my mother was a teen, a triple scoop of ice cream was only 25 cents, but she had to babysit 4 hours to earn that cone.  I could earn the price of a triple scoop cone in two hours.  With many babysitters today earning $10 an hour, that triple scoop is within your grasp in less than an hour.  If the parents go out for dinner and a movie, the babysitter can buy a new t-shirt to replace the one stained with  melted ice cream from that triple scoop.  A adult paying payroll taxes, car payments, rent, and other bills has less disposible income, but most small items can still be easily bought used, if not new.

Then as Venus 193 pointed out, there are more gift occasions, as well as more people buying gifts.   I got Christmas gifts from only one aunt, even though both parents came from large families.  The one aunt had no children; everyone else had 3 or 4 kids of their own.  My great nephews get presents from me, their in-law aunt (my brother's widow), their grandmother, their other grandmother, a close friend of the family, and of course, their parents.  They would probably get presents from their father's sister if she had any money.  Heck, they might even get presents from their other great-uncle if my family actually got along -- or maybe not, Brother is kind of cheap.   ;)  And that's just Christmas. 

The point is, with all of this Stuff pouring in, it is too easy to take it for granted.  If the parents don't push, the recipients don't care.  My Nephew and Niece-in-law do care; they make sure the boys thank everyone. So they keep getting gifts.  Another niece didn't care, never acknowledging gifts for her son or pushing him to acknowledge them.  I don't send gifts to them anymore. 

Possum

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 262
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2013, 02:32:46 PM »
http://www.freep.com/article/20130628/FEATURES01/306280008/thank-you-notes-gratitude-acknowledging-gifts-puzzled-giver

"I think something else important happened that doesn’t get enough credit for the clear trend toward unacknowledged gifts: Stuff matters less." Carolyn Hax goes on to say that we have become immune to our possessions and that may be part of the reason for the lack of thank you notes today.

I must admit, I have never heard this point of view before.

Other thoughts?
A gift isn't just "stuff."  It's a message--"I celebrate your achievement," "I wish you a wonderful future," "I'm proud of you," "I'm glad you're here with us on Earth for another year."  Or just, "I like you," or, "I'm thinking of you."  Even if that chafing dish is just "stuff," the sentiment behind the gift should still be acknowledged and treated with gratitude. 

Luci

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5994
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2013, 02:34:31 PM »
I am so glad someone finally made the point about too many gifts.

One young person is appalled that Lucas and I don't exchange gifts much. We met in 1964 and married in 1966. I once figured out how many gifts we would have exchanged if we did that every Christmas, birthday, Valentine's Day, anniversary, and hospital stay. It was shocking. When we do find something for each other, it means a lot more. Plus, we have all of those purchases we made together. (At least $25 a gift, that's well over $10,000, a lot of angst, and mostly stuff bought in desperation that we don't need. We find other ways to express our love and appreciation.)

We give the grandchildren baby gifts, a couple of years of Christmas and birthday gifts, Baptism gifts, and when they are seniors in high school, a Swarkovski Christmas ornaments. We take them for lunch and shopping on their birthday. Now that they are older, they sometimes keep the cash for something they are saving for. So far, they seem to appreciate the things we do get them once in a while a lot more. They get plenty of stuff from other people.

We pretty much don't give gifts to friends. We feed them a lot though! Extended family gifts are usually food, or at least some other kind of cunsumable.

I have been sad that Thank You notes seem to be a thing of the past, but I never put the possible cause and effect together, so thanks for posting this.

Twik

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 28361
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2013, 02:54:05 PM »
http://www.freep.com/article/20130628/FEATURES01/306280008/thank-you-notes-gratitude-acknowledging-gifts-puzzled-giver

"I think something else important happened that doesn’t get enough credit for the clear trend toward unacknowledged gifts: Stuff matters less." Carolyn Hax goes on to say that we have become immune to our possessions and that may be part of the reason for the lack of thank you notes today.

I must admit, I have never heard this point of view before.

Other thoughts?

If stuff truly matters less, try not sending it in the first place. I suggest that many people who don't feel up to giving thanks for it would suddenly decide stuff matters a lot.

(My own opinion is that we simply do not think of letters between friends much any more. We talk face to face, we telephone, we text or e-mail, and we say thanks in that manner. Sitting down with a pen and paper is just not in our basic programming any more - it needs to be specially installed with our "formal etiquette" upgrade module.)
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

lowspark

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3851
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2013, 03:36:13 PM »
I'm another who just doesn't want to give and receive gifts anymore. My husband and I don't exchange gifts at all. We buy what we want when we want it if we can afford it. Now, that's not to say that if I saw something I thought he'd love I wouldn't buy it for him (and vice versa) just because. But we are way past the days of exchanging obligatory gifts for bdays and holidays.

I have a group of friends who used to exchange bday gifts within the group. It became such a chore to find gifts I thought they would like and most of the stuff they gave me, although really nice and thoughtful, was stuff I could really live without. We ended the tradition a few years ago and it's just so much better that way.

Really, the only gifts I give now are for weddings & babies, that sort of thing. And I have a policy that if I don't receive a TY note from the recipient, I chalk it up to them not needing any more gifts from me and that is the last they will receive. Regardless of whether the gift is something they needed or greatly valued or whatever, or not, a TY of some kind, preferrably a note in most situations, is essential.

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 30504
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2013, 04:21:01 PM »
If stuff truly matters less, try not sending it in the first place. I suggest that many people who don't feel up to giving thanks for it would suddenly decide stuff matters a lot.

I assure you that everyone I know would actually be relieved. Especially my kids, who DO express thanks. They'd gladly give up the stuff if they didn't have to write a thank-you note.

They can get the message about "I'm so happy for you!" with just a card, or a Facebook message, or a hug whenever it is they do see the person.

In fact, I think they'd prefer it

Quote

(My own opinion is that we simply do not think of letters between friends much any more. We talk face to face, we telephone, we text or e-mail, and we say thanks in that manner. Sitting down with a pen and paper is just not in our basic programming any more - it needs to be specially installed with our "formal etiquette" upgrade module.)

I agree--but I think that *most* people who truly complain about thank-you notes would be very happy with a Facebook update that says, "Auntie Toots, thanks for all the goodies!" Or might even PREFER a telephone call or a conversation in person. (in fact, Emily Post says that if you open the gift in front of the giver, you probably don't need to send a note).

I think it's the absence of a thank-you *communication* that people mind.
Oh, true, there are some people who won't believe "thank you, I really appreciate it" unless they get it IN WRITING. But those people are a minority, and they're wrong.

magicdomino

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4608
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2013, 04:50:30 PM »
Agreed.  I would have been happy with any acknowledgement from my niece, just to know that her son got the package.  Nuthin'.  Like throwing it into a black hole, except the black hole would have spit out a few gamma rays. 

Cami

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1307
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2013, 05:17:08 PM »
I definitely do think there is something to her point. Back in the day, we got new clothes only at the beginning of the school year and as birthday and Christmas gifts. Toys were given only for birthday and Christmas (along with one small $5 toy for a good year-end report card.) So getting a gift was A. Big. Deal and much appreciated.

That said, I also think part of it is our general laziness and self-entitlement. I've observed far too many people who don't "believe" in any expression of gratitude for a gift because they believe they are entitled to it and/or that it's "too much trouble" (but wow, they get ticked if it's "too much trouble" for someone to give them a gift).

Venus193

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 15852
  • Backstage passes are wonderful things!
Re: Carolyn Hax on why there are less TY notes
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2013, 05:17:33 PM »
I read that this morning, and I can see her point.  Now all of us, including Carolyn Hax, agree that indifference doesn't excuse people from at least sending an email or making a phone call. 

But Stuff is so easy to get.  For instance, when my mother was a teen, a triple scoop of ice cream was only 25 cents, but she had to babysit 4 hours to earn that cone.  I could earn the price of a triple scoop cone in two hours.  With many babysitters today earning $10 an hour, that triple scoop is within your grasp in less than an hour.  If the parents go out for dinner and a movie, the babysitter can buy a new t-shirt to replace the one stained with  melted ice cream from that triple scoop.  A adult paying payroll taxes, car payments, rent, and other bills has less disposible income, but most small items can still be easily bought used, if not new.

Then as Venus 193 pointed out, there are more gift occasions, as well as more people buying gifts.   I got Christmas gifts from only one aunt, even though both parents came from large families.  The one aunt had no children; everyone else had 3 or 4 kids of their own.  My great nephews get presents from me, their in-law aunt (my brother's widow), their grandmother, their other grandmother, a close friend of the family, and of course, their parents.  They would probably get presents from their father's sister if she had any money.  Heck, they might even get presents from their other great-uncle if my family actually got along -- or maybe not, Brother is kind of cheap.   ;)  And that's just Christmas. 

The point is, with all of this Stuff pouring in, it is too easy to take it for granted.  If the parents don't push, the recipients don't care.  My Nephew and Niece-in-law do care; they make sure the boys thank everyone. So they keep getting gifts.  Another niece didn't care, never acknowledging gifts for her son or pushing him to acknowledge them.  I don't send gifts to them anymore.

There is definitely the instant gratification factor thanks to credit cards and a number of other things that -- some would say -- devalue certain things and experiences.  For example:

  • Thanks to recording devices and On-Demands, you don't have to be home when your favorite TV show is on; you can watch at your convenience
  • Thanks to DVDs you don't have to wait for a specific calendar day for "event" movies like The Wizard of Oz being broadcast on the weekend prior to Labor Day weekend.
  • The internet allows people to avoid a lot of library trips when you want to know something.