The art of gratitude

I love reading “Miss Manners.” Although the questions are sometimes a bit simplistic, the advice in this sweetly anachronistic newspaper column often reminds me of the enormous power of small gestures.

Like saying thank you.

A few days ago I treated an acquaintance to a small birthday celebration.

I was a bit hurt that she showed no interest in the gifts I’d assembled, other than to comment, “Oh. Books.”

Never mind that the topmost item was a package of very expensive chocolates. Everything ended up on the floor.

She talked about herself nonstop for two hours as she ordered over $70 a la carte. She complained imperiously to the waiter and whined repeatedly that they didn’t offer her beverage of choice.

At the end of the tedious meal, she said, “We really must do this again sometime.”

Don’t hold your breath, hon.

Although she did say thanks (eventually), the words rang hollow. Up to that moment, I had seen no evidence of gratitude; I’d seen only greed and entitlement.

Poor Esteban had a similar experience today, on an even larger scale. He spent his entire Saturday coordinating a free community event. And how did the participants thank him for getting up at 6 a.m. on his day off and standing for four hours in the rain? By complaining that the free pizza didn’t have their favorite toppings.

I suppose it’s natural in our age of incredible abundance to take some things for granted. But it still breaks my heart to think that the sacrifices of generations past have yielded nothing but a nation of entitled ingrates.

What a shame that we’re forgetting the gentle art of gratitude.

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