The rule was that we (Brutha and I) had to respond, in writing, to each and every person who gave/sent us presents (or cards, or cash) for our birthdays and at Christmas.
No exceptions and certainly no one-liners on a postcard. No. We had to write a proper letter, specifying what the gift was (or explaining what we planned to spend the cash on) and thanking them for their kindness. You know, along the lines of:
Dear Auntie A & Uncle B,
Thank you very much for the book you sent me for my birthday last week*. I really like this author and I'm excited to read it. It was very nice of you and I really appreciate it.
I hope you are well. We went on an excursion to the zoo yesterday and one of the boys was bitten by a rabbit in the petting enclosure**. He's ok though.
Thank you again for the book.
Lots of love,m_mxx
I remember Brutha used to protest long and loud about having to write these letters and much preferred to phone people and thank them (which eventually, he was allowed to do), but I loved it. Firstly, because I got to go to the store and pick out new stationery. (I love stationery. Put me in an Officeworks or a Paperchase or a Staples and I am in heaven.) And secondly, because I was so bone-crushingly shy around adults as a child (I couldn't even go into a store and ask a sales assistant where to find something until I was at least 16 - my mother always had to ask for me), that I found writing far less traumatising.
Anyway, I'd get my new stationery and write my letters and feel a great sense of satisfaction that I'd said a proper thank you to these people. And it's something I still do, although now I'm more likely to fire off an email of thanks in place of a handwritten letter (although I am trying to get better at that - after all, it's nice to receive some old-fashioned mail). But regardless, I still thank people when they've taken the trouble to send me something or give me a gift.
I just wish they'd return the courtesy.
I know that sounds a little Judith Martin of me and probably makes me sound ancient and fuddy-duddy, but I don't care. I certainly don't expect people to gush and rave because I've sent them something, but I do at least expect a "thank you" text or phone call. If I've gone to the effort, a little acknowledgement wouldn't go astray.
And yes. This (blatantly passive-aggressive) post is directed at my family and several of my friends (especially those with kids who score from me on their birthdays and at Christmas). Miss Manners is going to start getting snarky if you don't start getting polite.
* Books were what I mostly received as presents as a kid. I was a total bookworm - you could never go wrong with a book.
** This actually happened on a school excursion once. He was teasing the poor rabbit with some straw so I reckon it was karma. Even though I didn't know what karma was at the time...