Years ago, a Lake Michigan steamboat sank after being rammed by another boat. Out of 393 passengers on board, 279 drowned. A man named Edward Spencer plunged into the lake to save 17 drowning people, causing nerve damage to his legs. He never walked again. On his eightieth birthday, someone asked him to relate his most vivid memory of that dreadful day. He replied, “Not one of the seventeen returned to thank me.”
Jesus had a similar experience after healing 10 lepers. Only one, a despised Samaritan, thanked him. Read Luke 17:11-19. Jesus is grieved because of this. “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Modeling gratefulness for our children is imperative for parents. Titus 2:7 makes that clear: Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity.
Last month, my granddaughter Britney called to thank Dave and me for her birthday gift- card. We have come to cherish those calls. Not all of our relatives are as considerate, so if you know a gentle way to ask loved ones to PULEEEZE acknowledge receiving a gift, PULEEEZE tell me what it is.
A close friend tired of buying expensive outfits for her grandkids but never seeing them wear the clothes. The final straw came when her daughter-in-law, the two-year-old’s mother, pulled the jeans and shirt out of the gift bag and dismissively set them aside without saying “thank you.” My friend picked up the outfit and threw it in the trash can. “That will be the last thing I ever buy for my son’s kids,” she told me. And she meant it.
I know someone who stopped sending her grandson money because he never acknowledged receiving it. Some say that’s too harsh, as I found when I researched suggestions. “If you have a tracking code, check to see if your gift was delivered. That should be enough.” “The fun is in the giving, not in hearing ‘thank-you.’” Another idea? “Subtly mention how much you like the China pattern they chose and hope that reminds them that you sent them a dinner plate, and they will thank you.”
Call me a curmudgeon, but I disagree. One response made more sense: “… it’s just one more by-product of Entitlement. ‘Of COURSE’ you sent me a gift. Why wouldn’t you?” Perhaps that’s true, but I think the real problem is parents who are not teaching their kids to be thankful.
Sometimes it’s cultural. After moving to Mexico, I learned that newlyweds don’t send thank-you notes. “Then how do I know that they received my gift?” I asked. No one had an answer. American weddings are different. A friend of ours once placed $500 in an envelope and left it at the wedding table with the other gifts. Months went by before he called the couple to ask if they had received it. They had not. As it turned out, they had not received money from other guests as well. (Looks like there was a thief at the gift table
Lisa Grotts, etiquette expert and founder of Golden Rules Gal, gives suggestions as to how children can acknowledge gifts. “Gift-givers like to know that their gift was received and that the recipient enjoyed it. Children of all ages should be taught to write or draw a thank-you card when they receive a present. Another modern option is to send a thank-you text or email, preferably with a cute picture of the kiddo holding the gift or a thank you sign.”
My frustration in not receiving a “thank you” is not that I feel unappreciated. I just want the youngsters in my family never to take anything for granted. Their parents. Their friends. Their freedom. Their church. Their life. Their God. Should they fail to understand the unselfishness of the word “thanks,” it is a slippery slope to becoming selfishly ungrateful.
Much more preventable if parents do their jobs. I think that Jesus would agree.