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READY: Thanks. Don’t just say it; write it too

Staff Writer
The Destin Log
Mary Ready

“Blow, blow thou winter wind! Thou art not so unkind as Man’s ingratitude.”

Shakespeare said it best (of course he always said everything best), and I agree with his thoughts on ingratitude. For 30 years of teaching high school seniors, I insisted they learn and practice the art of writing thank you notes for favors, gifts and other acts of kindnesses done for them. I stressed the importance of the right kind of stationary, neatly handwritten in blue or black ink, observing proper margins, blah, blah, blah. 

These days, I’d be happy if a young gift recipient sent me a sincere, heartfelt thank you note in crayon on a post-it note.  

Although older folks are sometimes guilty as well, let me focus my nagging on many high school graduates, young brides, and new mothers. In spite of email and E-cards, social note writing is still being taught in today’s schools. And with the recent outpouring of books on manners (especially in the corporate world), there is little excuse for young people being ignorant of the necessity to write cards of thanks for graduation and shower gifts. Yet my experience in the last few years as a gift-giver is that some youthful recipients don’t even acknowledge presents with a spoken “Thank you.” That leaves me wondering if the person received the gift at all, and if so, whether or not it was appreciated. Once I got a thank you note that read like this:

   “Charles thanks you for the nice gift you sent him for graduation. I’m sure he can use it.

    Sincerely, Charles’ mother

 Another time, when banks returned your cancelled checks, I got a cryptic “Thanks” scribbled under his endorsement on the check I sent a young man for college graduation. I guess the bank saved him the cost of stationary and stamp. 

One clever (and lazy) high school graduate sent me a generic, typed note, cut out in the size and shape of his official commencement stationary and glued in place inside the card. Apparently, he had printed multiple copies of “Thank you for the gift. I’m sure it will come in handy.” At least, he actually signed his name at the bottom.

For a young mother-to-be, I wrote an original sonnet for her baby boy. It took me hours to select the precise words and craft them into a lyric poem in perfect iambic pentameter.

Then I placed my work in a simple blue frame. I also sent a hand-crocheted baby blanket. I didn’t attend the shower, but I’m told the young woman responded to my gift with “Oh, no, not another picture frame.” Since I received no thank you note from her, I’ll never know if she liked the blanket or even read the poem I wrote.

And to all the young brides out there who don’t express thanks to vindictive old baby boomer biddies like me, the message is clear: don’t bother sending us baby shower invitations when our wedding gifts of clocks, toasters, towels, and blenders go unacknowledged.

So why aren’t we — and I include myself — more appreciative as a society these days? Do we just have so much that we take everything given us without a thought? Do little trick-or-treaters seldom say “thank you” for the candy because, after all, for most children there is no shortage of goodies the other 364 days of the year? 

I keep a thank you note written me some years ago, and I take it out and read it whenever I get discouraged about young people and their lack of social graces. A 17 year old wrote:     

“Dear Ms. Ready,

Thank you sincerely for the graduation money. It’s going into my laptop fund for college. But along with your kind gift, thank you for remembering me at this special time in my life. I am eager to move on and fulfill God’s plan for me, but apprehensive of going it alone, without my mother. You were always such a dear friend to her and through that example, I’ve learned the value of the precious friendships we develop and the lives we bless. Thank you for being a blessing to her and to me. Sincerely, Natalie Bergen” 

And, yes, she wrote that in black ink on lovely stationary, observing proper margins and spelling every word correctly. Her Mama would have been so proud.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.