The Art of Etiquette

About a week after my birthday, I went out to have sushi with two of my friends at one of my favorite sushi restaurants in the area.  We had a pretty lively dinner with great conversations, as usual.

As we cleared our plates to wait for the checks, I pulled a couple of envelopes out of my bag.  “Here,” I said.  “These are for you.”  Then I excused myself – partly to use the restroom, partly so I wouldn’t be present when they read the cards.

When I returned, both of my friends were very happy.  “Thank you so much!  That was so sweet.”

I was a little confused.  “Did you just thank me for giving you a thank-you card?”

Thank-Yous and Gratitude

Apparently, no one my age (I just turned 20) writes thank-you notes anymore, even when receiving a generous or thoughtful gift.  It seems really strange to me – I was raised to write thank-you notes every time someone gives you a gift.  Granted, I usually wrote them to aunts and uncles, not friends, but since I became an adult it seemed somehow more appropriate.

I haven’t had much of a chance to write thank-you notes until recently, but the (albeit very pleased) surprise of my two friends was a bit shocking.  Why wouldn’t you thank someone for giving a gift?

The more I thought about it, though, the more sense the whole situation made to me: I’ve never received a thank-you note from anyone, either.

One thing I dislike the most about people my own age is definitely the lack of gratitude and, well, downright politeness that I’ve observed.  Now, I’m not exactly the best of the class when it comes to etiquette, either, but at the very least I know to give respect where respect is due.

Adding Gratitude to Your Life

There are so many ways for young people to add some kindness to their lives.  Here are a few things you could try to show your appreciation for others.

  • Write thank-you notes to those who do something out of the ordinary.  This could be something like giving you a birthday gift – but don’t forget to thank those who help you with other things, too!  Teachers, friends, and family members do like to be recognized for things, you know.
  • When someone does something nice, reciprocate.  Your best friend took you out to a club on your birthday?  Take her out dancing for hers.  Your cousin bought you lunch last week?  Treat him next week.
  • Bring a gift when you’re invited to a house party, even if it’s a social equal like a friend or classmate.  If someone’s inviting you into their home, thank them!  By “gift,” I mean bring your friend a snack, a dessert, or something to drink.  You could bring flowers if you like – they’re not too expensive – but make sure the recipient is not allergic.

It’s always nice to be thanked by someone for something you did.  It’s also nice to say thank you once in a while!  And one added benefit: by making someone smile with a nice surprise, you’ll make the world a better place – one inch at a time.

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