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thank you
Dec 12th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

pet peeve alert. pet peeve alert.

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yesterday, i had a wonderful lunch with a friend i hadn’t seen since i was a teenager. sometimes, there are people in life who you may not see for years and years, but when you do get together, it’s as if you hadn’t seen them since just last tuesday. one of the many things we discussed (besides every single person we remembered from our hometown and how i  apparently tried to kill a yule log in college, which is a whole other matter) was the concept of thank you notes.

(stay with me, even though i know i am the queen of non sequitors.)

see, when i was little, my mom drummed into my head that i was responsible for writing a thank you note whenever someone gave me a present. it didn’t have to be a novel (though, as i was verbose even as a child, it often wound up as one), but just something to acknowledge the kindness of the person for thinking of me. to this day, i eventually get around to thanking people, whether by note, email, or pigeon. it’s an ingrained habit; and i also think it’s simply the right thing to do. i often get very busy, but i do make an effort to at least get the word out.

now that i have children, i am trying to do the same. sure, one doesn’t write much at the moment beyond a few sight words he has learned in kindergarten; but i do try to put the kids on the phone or at least sign their names to thank you cards i have written.  i want them to understand that they are not simply entitled to things; in fact, i want them to learn that someone took the time to think of them and do something nice for them or get them a present. that person didn’t have to do anything — but he or she did. and so, it is my child’s obligation to be humble and appreciative.

or, in the words of my wonderful mother-in-law, we give gifts graciously, and we receive gifts graciously. (she and my mom went to the same mom school on this, i think.)

where am i going with this, you may ask.

i am saddened by the interactions i have had with so many younger people lately. i am saddened because i hear in their voices and in their words a sense of entitlement:

because my parents have money, i should have money, too.

because i finished college, i should immediately start out in a high-paying job with huge responsibilities.

because everyone else in the pop world seems to have clothes, bling, cars, etc., i of course am entitled to these, too, whether i’ve worked for them or not.

i smile knowingly, as i am not in any position to actually criticize people i don’t know well. but behind my smile is a mom who wants to scream.

see, i’m a left-of-center gal, so i do believe there are things people are entitled to have. things like food. shelter. safety. love. health care. rights, and a political system that respects them.

but beyond the basics, i don’t have a lot of empathy. in fact, this sense that the world owes you every material success seems to be rampant and infectious. i want my kids to understand that there are so many people in the world who don’t have the basics, let alone the latest sneakers or the hottest car. i want my kids to be as grateful as i am for all the things we have and for all that we are to each other.  i can’t stand the thought that some of their friends may one day impress upon them that they are owed more than they have earned. those friends will be doing them a great disservice. those friends need to learn a thing or two about gratitude, something they don’t necessarily grasp.

and perhaps its  in part because they didn’t have a mom who forced them to write thank you notes.


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