Well, apparently, a lot. One of my all time disappointments in human nature is a lack of common courtesy. The inability of people to utter a simple, genuine, delighted "thank you" stuns me every time. "Thank you" really is the expression that can make the world go 'round.
Gift giving - and receiving - is actually far more complex than you think. Whenever a gift is involved, there are messages being given and hungers being fed...or frustrated. (Tomorrow's entry will explore all that.) But for today, just know that gift giving and receiving is a human exchange you will participate in all your life. Doing each side of the transaction well adds tremendous enjoyment and satisfaction to your life.
Gift giving is a a social dance with its own choreography. It is a transaction with a beginning, a middle, an end. The giving and receiving of a gift is a cycle that must be completed if both parties are to be satisfied.
The receiver of a gift has a job to do: to acknowledge the giver for his thoughtfulness and generosity.
Not being thanked or acknowledged for giving a gift has killed the joy in gift giving for me. Lately, I haven't been receiving thank you's for wedding and baby shower gifts. I go to the effort to choose something I think the couple will like, or, selected something for which they registered, spend my hard earned money...and then it falls into a black hole! I don't know if they even received the gift, opened the gift, or knew it came from me!
This is low class behavior. I don't care if you have a college degree or are a millionaire. Saying, "Thank you," is priceless and it doesn't cost you a thing.Always be delighted when someone gives you a gift.
Say "Thank you!"
Ask if you can open the gift right away, because people like having their gifts opened in front of them. Unless of course they say, "Do save it for Christmas morning," or, "Open it at your party tomorrow."
If you love it, then by all means express it! If not, then you must appreciate it. Never show that you don't like it. After all, it really is the thought that counts.
Don't just open it and put it aside. Comment on the gift. Even if you don't like it, there are things you can say: Where did you find it? The color is amazing. It is so exotic. I've never seen anything like it! Tone of voice is everything.
Try to refer to the gift at least once during the course of the time you spend together.
When the person leaves, thank them once again for their thoughtfulness. You just can't overdo, "thank you."
Certain gifts --Christmas, birthday, wedding--deserve a written thank you.
Never say you don't like a gift. Never even show ambivalence about a gift. Even if you have the book, say, "Oh, I adore this book." And you are telling the truth! If it is a particularly close friend, you might be able to utter a geniune groan and say, "Oh dearl...I love this book so much that I already have it!" And they will groan and be disappointed too. And then you'll make the arrangements about who will return the book and get something else.
Tomorrow: on giving!