I’ve started dropping friends and acquaintances who fail to thank. Be it for a present, a favour or simply for having had dinner at my home. It’s my choice and although it may appear as unforgiving, I have good reasons for acting this way.
For me, “thank you” isn’t just a formality, or something old-fashioned to be dispensed with in this world where every rudeness and disrespect justifies itself with the word “busy”. After all, what makes the other person’s time more valuable than mine? If I have found the time to buy a present, do a favour or cook a meal, then surely the other person – unless suddenly physically incapacitated – has the time to express his/her appreciation of my gesture. Because for me thanking isn’t just two words to throw at someone as casually as the used, over-used and abused British “sorry”, but a full acknowledgement of the giver’s act. It’s communicating to the other person, “I take full responsibility for accepting what you give me by acknowledging both it and you.” It’s allowing for interaction, for dialogue, for energy to flow both ways.
Yes, I think accepting something carries a degree of responsibility because it is an exercise in choice. You have a choice in whether you accept something from someone. A gift is a form of engagement with the other person, and failure to thank means a failure in engaging in turn, a failure to make the gift a living thing, effectively by allowing it to fall down a black hole. I don’t buy the cop-out “They did that for us because they wanted to – it was their choice”. It was equally your choice to accept and denying it is deeply disrespectful and tantamount to telling those people, “You’re invisible”.
Many of us remember huffing and puffing while dutifully writing thank-you letters for Christmas and birthday presents. I even remember a time when a couple of days after a dinner party, your guests would send you a thank-you card. Only last week, I received one such card from a couple we’d had ’round for dinner and it was such a pleasure to see that they’d taken the time to choose and write a card. In these “busy” times, this is a precious little nugget, and I’m usually happy with a ‘phone call, e-mail or even a text message. Something that says, “I see you”.
Time and again, I hear friends who haven’t been thanked by their own friends, relatives or children, excuse them by saying, “Oh, they’re very busy” or, worse, “I know they’re grateful, even if they haven’t actually said it.” I don’t think telepathic thanks count. It’s too easy. Too passive. Gifts, favours and food are not given telepathically. Gratitude, like love, isn’t a state but an action. It’s what distinguishes us from plants.
So, if a friend or acquaintance does not acknowledge my gesture of kindness towards him/her, they are saying, “You’re invisible. You don’t exist.”
And an invisible person cannot express him/herself. A person who does not exist cannot possibly keep in touch with you, right?