1/7/2022 | By Terri L. Jones

Too many people today don’t write thank-you notes or express gratitude. Many even fail to acknowledge receipt of a gift. Why is this? Frequent Seniors Guide contributor Terri L. Jones looks at the dying art of the thank you and suggests some solutions.

I struggle with which fork to use for which course, don’t even own a black dress for funerals, and have sipped my champagne before the toast. In other words, Emily Post I am not. But I definitely miss one simple rule of etiquette, which has sadly gone the way of a gentleman tipping his hat or a lady crossing her legs at the ankles, and that is thanking someone for a gift.

We can thank our mothers for the art of the thank you

When someone gives me something – whether it’s a home-cooked dinner or a piece of jewelry – my mother taught me to send a thank-you card. I still have a box of those simple white cards in the bottom drawer of my desk.

In this digital age, when people don’t handwrite anything if they can help it, I certainly don’t expect a card every time I bestow something upon someone. I do, however, expect to be acknowledged, especially if I didn’t witness the person receiving or opening it. A phone call or an email will do; even a text will suffice. But I’ve found that I often receive none of the above.

What happened to gratitude?

Part of the reason for this breach in etiquette may be social media. People regularly post about showing kindness but seem to have a harder time delivering it one on one.

Also, we may not have done a very good job of teaching the younger generations manners like our parents taught us (remember your parents asking you repeatedly if you thanked Great Aunt Mary for the pretty necklace or cuff links?).

Related: Dear Amy, are thank-you’s and/or acknowledgements passé?

But I think there may be a deeper reason behind this cultural shift.

Do gifts mean less?

One online writer speculated that the reason for this seeming rudeness could actually be a growing apathy about gifts in general. When most of us have more than we need, that hat and scarf simply don’t have the same allure as they did decades ago. Not too long after the person rips off the wrapping, those items may be headed for a yard sale or donation site.

Plus, many of the gifts we currently give seem pretty perfunctory. You have to give that person something, so how about this handy dandy gadget that popped up on your Amazon home page? Sure, it’s the thought that counts, but most of us aren’t even putting much thought into our gifts these days.

Rethink the idea of gifts.

Rather than ranting about how thankless and ungrateful our friends and family are, perhaps we should reimagine our concept of gifts instead. Maybe you can pass down an heirloom ring that your granddaughter loves or start giving away those tools your husband no longer uses to the new homeowners in the family. If someone has expressed an interest in learning the piano, give them a piano lesson. Or maybe you can teach them the piano yourself.

Better yet, give the ones you love the gift of your time and ask for the same gift in return. That’s a gift that they’re sure to cherish forever!

Related: Gratitude benefits the giver of the thanks, too

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones