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Celia Rivenbark

Celia Rivenbark writes a column distributed by Tribune News Service.

At first, I thought it was an aberration, just a good friend trying to make life easier for me after a festive birthday dinner. Her tone was firm, leaving no room for even a mouse-squeak of a protest.

“Don’t write me a thank you note; it’s not necessary.”

Do what?

B-b-but … I thought thank-you notes, written promptly and warmly, were the only thing that separates us from the savages. Well, that and Blue Apron. OK, and Hulu.

Point is, this is still the South the last time I looked and if you receive a gift, you need to say thank you with some pretty stationery and a stamp that has flowers on it.

I know, I know. Where did I put my cameo brooch and corset? But it nags at me, this casual out-to-pasturing of the thank-you note.

The Princess, now a grownup schoolteacher, looked conflicted when sweet friends showered her with classroom supplies recently. Many told her a thank-you note wasn’t necessary. They meant well, of course. She’s starting a new job in a new city and has a gazillion new responsibilities. They honestly wanted to take one thing off her plate.

I completely get that. But is it possible this may be an area in which we’ve gone too far to keep life simple? Why should saying “thank you” the old-fashioned way be considered such an odious chore?

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I’m happy she ignored these well-meaning instructions and even wrote ME a thank you note, gushing about the assortment of bulletin board supplies I’d given her, along with thanks for a lifetime of support and encouragement. I will never, ever throw this note away. It made me cry.

Which is my point. We need these very tangible reminders of kindness in this increasingly cruel world. Please.

Priorities are out of whack when a formal-ish thank you is regarded as not only unnecessary but is viewed with the same dread as cleaning out the cat box. You thanked me. Now I must thank you. When will the madness end?

I know what you’re thinking. Keep it real, Mamie McFussbudget. We all have busy lives. Save a tree. Let’s take one thing off the towering to-do list that greets us every morning.

Why? What could possibly be more important, more impactful than putting in writing how much someone’s gift meant to you?

We haven’t been this divided as a nation for a very long time. Civility has evaporated faster than rubbing alcohol on a skeeter bite. We scream at each other; at the TV while cooking supper; and (inside our heads because we don’t want to be rude out loud), at the Last Person On Earth Who Still Writes a Check at the Grocery Store.

In short, most of us — if we’re honest — are jerks at least a few times a day. Yes. We are.

It’s not about being thanked. It’s about thanking. It’s about being grateful enough to spend a few minutes to reflect on someone’s generosity. That’s never a bad thing.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and humor columnist who frequently writes about politics for Tribune news Services; www.celiarivenbark.com

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