Give good gratitude

It’s a simple premise: if you like the presents you receive, and would like to receive more on future occasions, let the giver know!

In recent years I’ve given up on sending gifts to two close friends, because they simply don’t bother to acknowledge them.   Maybe, months later, they’ll say in passing while on the telephone, “Oh!  I meant to say thank you for that birthday gift you sent!”  But it’s a pretty feeble effort, all things considered. 

It’s not that they’re not caring, warmhearted people, it’s just that somewhere along the line they lost sight of the fact that sending thanks (and ideally, feedback) about a gift is an important part of maintaining your relationship with the giver – ‘closing the loop’, as it were. 

Years ago I remember one of them receiving a big parcel from her family overseas.  It was full of the most divine new clothing, and we onlookers were all green with envy at the wonderful gifts she got.  She shrieked with pleasure as each new garment was pulled out of the box, and modelled them for our approval.  But months later, despite much nagging from her mother, this generous gift was still unacknowledged to the givers.  I always wondered: did they ever bother to send her anything further, after that episode?

I know you, dear readers, would never be so thoughtless as to let a gift go unacknowledged.  But I do think, when someone doesn’t respond to a gift, it’s a good time – especially if it’s not the first time that’s happened – for the giver to take stock.  Usually I will “take the hint” (whether it’s a hint or not), to switch to sending just a greeting card in future.  After all, what can the recipient do?  Phone to demand: “Where’s my present?”  And although that’s technically possible, you have the perfect response all ready and waiting:

“Well, I never heard from you about last year’s present, nor the one before, so I thought you mustn’t like my gifts, and had better stop sending them.”  Cue – one hopes – embarrassed silence.

Postscript: the above post assumes that the giver values and expects reciprocity or thanks with gift giving.  Generally this is part of the accepted etiquette in Western society.  However, at risk of sounding petty or grasping in my gift-giving habits, I would also mention that I often give gifts where I do not anticipate any form of thanks or reciprocity.  But with close friends and family, I generally do.


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