Having a baby means receiving lots of baby gifts. And in our house it also means writing lots of thank-you notes. I just got the rest of my thank-you notes written and sent off. Admittedly, they were a pain to write, having to scrounge up friends’ and relatives’ addresses and take what precious free time I (don’t) have to compose a note. But I have a guilty conscience (a word I swear I will never be able to spell on my own), and so this guilt hangs over me until I have profusely thanked anyone who has given us anything.
At times that guilty conscience has done me good… it’s the only thing that kept me from completely rebelling against the monastic lifestyle my parents enforced on me in high school. That’s right, I had basically no social life as a teenager. But with my compulsion to profusely thank people, I’m starting to wonder if my guilty conscience is leading me astray.
Doing anything more than saying “Thanks” is a dying courtesy these days. Out of all the family members we send gifts to each year (15 different people), only one of them sends a thank-you card. And we don’t mind. The lack of receiving a card never even crosses our minds. So is it worth it for me to keep up this seemingly archaic tradition of thank-you notes? I don’t know how most people feel on the subject, so I’d love to hear your two cents.
I mean, there was a time period just a few decades back when it would have been considered rude to not send a thank-you note. What has changed since then? Is it that we can easily call, text, email, or FaceTime a “thanks” instead? Or do we as a people just expect to be given things nowadays? We’re definitely more entitled than we used to be. Check out these WWII posters I found on Pinterest, for example:
The one on the left is from Canada and the other is from Minnesota. Can you imagine our government releasing similar messages today? No way! I’ve heard politicians refer to our country as an “entitlement society.” I’m not going to touch that term with a ten-foot pole because I don’t want to talk politics. But I do think that generally we as a society expect more than we used to.
We expect a certain lifestyle without having to save and work hard. If we see something we want, we get it. Most of us no longer correlate hard work with what we have. So naturally when we receive a gift from others, we don’t think about the hard work that went into earning the money to buy that gift. And maybe, maybe that’s why thanking others is a lost form. I don’t know. Am I reaching? All I know is that back in our grandparents’ time, you didn’t buy something you couldn’t afford. And you were grateful for everything you had, whether you earned it yourself or whether it was given to you. Nothing was expected — it was earned. And they didn’t send crummy thank-you notes. They thanked you with a freaking homemade pie.
So what’s our deal? What do you think has contributed to society being less thankful? Do you see it as a problem? Should I save some time and stop sending thank-you notes?