OT: Warm, beautiful thank you notes...

I just read a beautifully-worded acknowledgment from Polly, the 90-year-old widow up the street who we surprised with a box of Godiva chocolates dropped on her front porch before Christmas. This lovely lady taught school for 40 years while raising 3 sons and entertaining her husband’s business clients.

DW and I, like Polly, were both raised by mothers who scrupulously followed the Mid-20th Century social conventions and rules of good manners prescribed by Amy Vanderbilt or Emily Post.

One of the inviolable and absolute rules drummed into the skulls of girls and boys in our scout troops, church groups, and circles of friends required prompt writing of carefully composed “Thank You” notes for every gift or special kindness we received. We have continued the same practice throughout our working lives and nearly 38-year marriage.

Without going into detail, I must admit that we have given generous gifts of cash, checks, gift cards, and luxury goods totaling many thousands of dollars to each of our nieces and nephews, as well as our grand-nieces and grand-nephews, even when it pinched our budget. Of the ten greatest beneficiaries of our largesse, only one single nephew has been assiduous in composing heartfelt thanks for each gift over the years. (Pre-printed graduation thank you cards do not count.)

We have just a few neighbors and friends who similarly take the opportunity of Holiday gifts (wine, candy, liqueurs, or gift cards) to write genuinely kind acknowledgments in appreciation of our friendship. Consistently, the more elderly folks write the most beautiful expressions (sometimes in shaky handwriting).

When we worked on our Joint Revocable Trust and Pourover Wills, guess who will be our biggest individual beneficiaries - besides our already-established alma mater scholarship funds and charities? You guessed it - the one nephew and a few carefully-chosen individuals.

At this moment in time, the old etiquette books and rules of good manners are so passe as to be quaint artifacts of a dying civilization. No wonder our national dialog seems to revolve around resentment, anger, hostility, and disrespect.

I am confident that most of our politicians, leaders, and celebrities would behave better if they spent some time reviewing old-fashioned standards of graciousness. There’s almost no one in Washington, DC who wouldn’t benefit greatly by spending a year or two under the tutelage of a retired schoolteacher like Polly.


You guessed it - the one nephew and a few carefully-chosen individuals.

I guess I’m turning from a cynical youngster into a cynical old coot.

I wonder if that one nephew is really better than all the others OR if he is just better at reading people that all the others?

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