Saturday, July 25, 2015

Thank you notes

As a child, thank you notes were a must for any gift received. My grandmother hovered over me, television was forbidden until they were written with the proper appreciation including for the annual Christmas gift of embroidered handkerchiefs that I would never use from an aunt somebody who I never remembered meeting, but suspected if I did she would be one of those old women who pinched my cheeks.

Still I tortured my daughter the same way trying to make her see that someone went out their way to think of her for gifts received.

Fast forward to the 1990s and early 2000s when I dated a lovely Swiss gentlemen. We had many formal dinners with his friends, usually four couples, place names at table, wonderful food and great conversation.

A thank you note was required, a bit old-fashioned I thought, but this time I was sincere when I mentioned this or that lovely detail provided by the welcoming hostess. I knew from having reciprocated with a dinner all that went into it.

Fast forward again to the present

My housemate J had sent a birthday present to a charming multi-lingual, multi-imagination five-year old.  A thank you note in a childish scrawl was returned. I could picture her mom standing over her, but I know from many visits that her mother's nagging on manners has paid off by comments the child had made when we played together. At this early age, thoughtfulness for others had been activated from her Mom's DNA.

Then today in the mail, I found two thank-you notes in a single envelope from two bright, well-behaved little boys.

I'd known their French father from when he was a bump, seen him grow up during regular visits and even lived almost a year within in his family in France.

He was always a bright, funny, imaginative, well-behaved little boy with a bit of acceptable devil in him and adorable. He became the same kind of adult with a lovely wife and with his sons are following in his footsteps.

The thanks was for the loan of our flat in Argel├Ęs where they could vacation near the sea.

I'm sure it wasn't the boys idea. But parents who teach gratefulness will raise appreciative kids. Appreciative kids become kinder adults, and the world certainly needs kind adults.

I still can't remember that handkerchief-sending aunt, but unlike when I was little, I sincerely appreciate that she took the time to select something and send it to me in a way I didn't then.

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