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Miss Manners: OK to expect gratitude for generosity

Mon., June 24, 2013

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We live in a small town where many people know almost everyone else. In the past two years, fundraisers have been held for a child with a brain tumor, two women with cancer, and a young mother who was seriously injured in an auto crash. All but one of the individuals survived.

Response to the fundraisers was exceptional. We made donations directly to the individuals.

None of the individuals or their family or friends who sponsored the fundraisers acknowledged our gift or the personal note we included with each donation, two of which were substantial. Are we expecting too much, or is this the new norm for manners?

GENTLE READER: If it is, it will soon be the end of such generosity as you and your fellow townspeople have expressed. Generosity and gratitude are inseparably linked.

Miss Manners knows to expect two dissenting reactions to that statement:

One is the standard defense by youngsters who haven’t thanked their grandmothers for sending them checks – that Grandma must be really selfish to expect any return, rather than doing it for the pure love of giving. This is a bit like saying that it isn’t true love if you care about being loved in return.

The other defense is that people in the midst of tragedy are excused from being grateful. But that is exactly when you find out who the compassionate and generous people are. Are those really the people you want to blow off?

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