Thank you gifts: are words just not enough anymore?

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I have to be careful because this post could be taken the wrong way.  If you find yourself reading it in a negative way and thinking ‘ungrateful cow’ then please know that is not the message intended.  What I am about to say is something that I too am guilty of!

I am worried.  I am worried because for a long time now I have noticed that Thank You is losing its meaning.

We all tell our children “say please, say thank you”.  These, we tell them, are the magic words.  However although ‘Please’ still holds on to some of this magic, ‘Thank You’ has lost it.  It’s as if we no longer believe our friends when they say ‘thank you’.  It doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.

There was a time when someone would do something nice for you or help you out: give you a lift somewhere, have you round for a cup of tea or collect your kids from school and your genuine thanks was all that was needed in return. There would also be the knowledge that one day they would probably call on you to help them out too so the favour would be returned.

Recently however (and as I said before I am guilty of slipping into this pattern too) I have noticed that ‘Thank You’ often comes with a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a bottle of wine and supper cooked by someone else!  These thank you gifts are wonderful and a real treat, however they are becoming daily occurrences for normal things that before would have just required the two simple magic words ‘Thank You’.

I was talking to my mother-in-law about this at the weekend, and she says that it is not the case where she lives.  I wonder if it is a location thing or a generation thing?  Everything in life is becoming more lavish, just think about children’s birthday parties (the cost of presents, party bags, bouncy castles!) it’s getting out of control.  With life becoming so expensive at the moment, these ‘thank you’ presents can really set someone back quite a few pennies especially if they feel they have to buy something as a thank you gift every time they ask for a favour or pop into a friends for a cup of tea.

So to all of my friends and family and anyone else listening, I would just like you to know that if you need my help I am there for you.  I don’t need a thank you gift.  I truly understand when you look in my eyes and say “Thank You” that you mean it and that is enough for me.  Likewise if, when you have helped me out, I come to your door to say “Thank You,” please know that I truly mean it from the bottom of my heart.  I appreciate your friendship, your help and your kind deeds.  I love having a cup of tea with you and a good natter.  If I don’t offer a gift of thanks please don’t be offended and think that I don’t appreciate what you have done for me.  I absolutely appreciate it, perhaps more than you will know, but sometimes I just can’t afford a bottle of wine, a bunch of flowers, so in return for your kind deed, you receive my thanks and an unspoken promise that I will help you in your times of need too and not expect a gift in return.

This leads me onto the topic of visiting guests.  We have recently moved house, so have had lots of wonderful weekends where our friends have made a huge effort to come all the way to see us to let us know we will not be forgotten!  This is a gift in itself.  Now when we used to go to someone’s house for supper it was always polite to take something.  A bottle of wine OR a bunch of flowers OR a box of chocolates.  Now suddenly the rules have changed and no one told me that I should actually be taking all three of the above to a dinner party, or a weekend at a friends house.  When did this happen?  Did I miss an email or a facebook post that announced this to everyone other than me?  More to the point why has this happened? Why is it necessary?  Again, my thanks goes out to anyone who has kindly brought these gifts to us on their weekends with us, receiving them was lovely, however I now have a sense of panic as I have never and will never be able to take all three things to someone else’s house as a thank you for dinner.  We simply can’t afford to do that.  We see friends nearly every weekend.  If we took all three gifts to every friend we saw it would be costing us about £50 a visit.  It might not sound much to some but to us that is a lot.  That’s a terms worth of ballet lessons, a month’s worth of swimming lessons.   So when we arrive at your door with only one gift it is not because we don’t appreciate your hospitality, it is just because we simply can’t afford to slip into a world where THANKS means nothing but GIFTS mean everything.

One of my best friends came to see me last week.  She got on the train from London with her two year old daughter and five month old son on the hottest day the year!  She bothered to get on and off buses and tubes and trains with two children to make the 4 hour journey down to us. This meant the world to me.  When she arrived the first thing she said was ‘sorry I have come empty handed!’  I had to laugh.  I told her about this blog post and I told her I didn’t need a gift, the best gift to me was just seeing her and her children.  Spending two lovely days with them, feeling blessed that I had a friend who went to so much trouble to come all the way to see me.

So will you help me spread the word?  That word is THANK YOU.  Remember what it means, remind your friends what it means and insist that it doesn’t have to come with a gift or a promise because we know that when a friend says Thank You it comes from the heart.

Please share the Thanks and spread the word xxx

help from my friends

Funny relationship advice for men: make your partner happy!

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When my husband and I moved in together we were given an amusing tea towel laying out “The Rules.”  They were as follows:

the rules

THE RULES

  1. The female always makes the rules.
  2. The rules are subject to change at any time without prior notice.
  3. No male can possibly know all the rules.
  4. If the female suspects the male knows all the rules she must immediately change some or all the rules.
  5. The female is never wrong.
  6. If the female is wrong it is due to a misunderstanding which was the direct result of something the male said or did.
  7. The male must apologise for causing said misunderstanding.
  8. The male is always wrong.
  9. The male may be right if he agrees with the female unless she wants him to disagree.
  10. The female may change her mind at any time.
  11. The male may never change his mind without the express written consent of the female.
  12. The female has every right to be angry or upset at any time.
  13. The male must remain calm at all times unless the female wants him to be angry and/or upset.
  14. The female must under no circumstances let the male know whether she wants him to be angry or upset.
  15. The male is expected to mind read at all times.

These are, to be fair, very confusing rules!  However a clever man will make them work to their advantage!  I just haven’t met that clever man yet! Last week, after a few glasses of Oyster Bay, my mum and I could not stop laughing about how men make their lives so much harder than they need to be in so many ways!

I feel sorry for men (sometimes!) so today I would like to offer some advice to all men.  Ladies, make sure you share this, it will make your life so much better! Here it is:

Dear Man,

Whether you are dating, engaged or married.   This relationship advice will, I promise, put you in a win-win situation and make your partner happy at the same time! It simply cannot fail.

Firstly let’s look at Rule 5, above.  “The female is never wrong.”  My husband has recently admitted, albeit begrudgingly, that 99% of the time I am right.  He even tells our daughters to do what I say because “mummy is always right.”  We have one exception in our house, and that is that I am not right when it comes to the rules of chess.  So taking into account that most of the time the woman in your life is going to be right, there is one simple rule to follow.

DO WHAT YOUR GIRLFRIEND/FIANCE/WIFE SUGGESTS.  You are permitted to say just once “I take your point, I wouldn’t do it that way myself but let’s give your way a go, Darling.”  A word of warning though, only utter the above words if you are positive that her way is not going to work, otherwise don’t argue about it, don’t even think about it anymore just do what she says.  There are only two possible outcomes that can then occur.

Outcome 1:  Your partner was right, the task was done quickly and efficiently and she will be happy.  Smug, yes (especially if you disagreed at the start) but mainly happy which is a good thing.  You will also have earned massive brownie points for not arguing and successfully completing a task!  Well done you.

Outcome 2: Your partner was wrong.  Again a winning situation.  If you did state before the task that you disagreed with her method then you may now use the phrase “I TOLD YOU SO!”  Crack open a beer and walk around with a smug grin.  If you didn’t disagree in the first place then you get to say “HA HA YOU WERE WRONG.”  Do a silly dance in her face and walk away laughing to complete the task as you would have done in the first place.  You partner will not be very happy but she will not be able to complain.  You did as she asked and she was wrong.  She should now thank you for trying her way and let you get on with it however you choose.

So there you have it.  A win-win outcome for all male partners anywhere, in any situation.

As an added bonus let me share this with you too as it will also make your life easier.  If you are in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex then you will have encountered NAGGING!  However, have you ever considered the true origin of NAGGING!  It is a universal myth that nagging is a female invention, but this cannot possibly be true.  Let me tell you why:

Nagging is in fact a SELF-INDUCED form of male torture.  Like a really bad hangover.  Men have complete power over nagging. Let me explain why.  Nagging would not exist if men did what their partners asked straight away.  The man is in control of The Nag!  If you can’t do a task straight away, then give your partner a date and time that the task will be completed by and make sure you do it.  If you follow those rules then there will be no need for nagging to occur at all!

Good luck men, remember it is within your power to make your life easier and your partner a joy to live with!

To conclude I would like to offer you two little stories from a time long ago, before my husband was my husband and before he knew that I was always right.

We were young, in love, and backpacking around the world.  We found ourselves in Perth, Australia and we were heading off up the west coast to go diving on the Ningaloo Reef.  We were into our last few weeks of travelling so money was tight.  We arrived at the car rental place and picked up our car.  The kind sales man offered us a map for $5.  I took the map, only to have it snatched out of my hands and handed back to the man.  I followed my husband to the car and asked him why we couldn’t have the map.  He flashed me a confident smile and said.  “I’m not wasting money on a map. We are in Perth, all we have to do is drive north to get to the Reef.  There is only one road north so it can’t be that hard to find.”

Two hours of driving, many arguments and $$$$ worth of fuel later, my husband stood red faced in front of the sales assistant and handed over $5 for a map.  I think I probably muttered the words “I told you so, you idiot.”

This humiliation was not enough for my husband.  He had still not learned Rule 5 and just hours later as we were cruising very quickly north up the west coast (following the map) my husband was pulled over by a police car and handed a $100 speeding fine.  To add insult to injury he was told by the police man to look after his girlfriend better!  As we continued on our journey, my husband was in a black mood, so when I started shouting slow down, slow down, to him, he shouted back that he wasn’t speeding.  I then screamed stop, but he refused to listen and realised too late that I was right yet again as a kangaroo casually jumped out in front of our car.”

Fourteen years later and he is much better at knowing that I am generally right, however he doesn’t seem to have grasped the nagging rule yet!

Share this with all women who want a giggle and all men who need relationship help!

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Your Opinion Is Not My Reality

Election Parties

 

I’ve borrowed a quote from Dr. Steve Mariboli as the title of this blog as it pretty much sums up my thoughts on the slanging matches that have occurred in the media since the election.

I have so far refrained from blogging about the election results.  Of course I voted and therefore have feelings about the result.  My husband will tell you that I can be very opinionated, sometimes blindly so.  I’m a Capricorn (we can get very feisty), he’s a Libran (irritatingly calm and balanced).  I found myself getting really quite worked up about all of the comments flooding Facebook. My reactions were getting quite heated, I’m ashamed to say now, so I had to stop looking at my Facebook page and the news for a few days.

I won’t say whether I’m happy or disappointed about the election results because this blog is not about which colour should or shouldn’t have won the election.  This blog is about a valuable lesson a friend taught me this week.  She has stopped me in my opinionated tracks and changed the way I think and I really hope this blog might do the same for others out there still feeling heated about the election.

The aforementioned friend is very passionate about politics.  It’s no secret that we voted for completely opposite parties.  She knows who I voted for and some of my views and I know hers and we are both quite open about it.  Despite our differing views we remain friends and are able to have a laugh about it.

Yesterday at school pick up we had an honest chat to reassure each other that we would not be offended by anything the other one said about politics and that we weren’t personally attacking each other.  In fact, rather than brushing her views away as ridiculous I actually began to enjoy hearing her ideas and learning from her.  I find her thoughts on the subject enlightening.  I learn something new from her in every conversation we have.  She has really good reasons for why she voted the way she did and I can’t argue with them because I have not lived her life.

I’ve have come to realise (and I really wish other people would realise the same thing) that being angry with each other about the way we voted, or which party will run the country for the next five years is futile.  Voting isn’t really about choosing a particular person because you believe in everything they are doing.  It’s not a war where one side of the country is wrong and one is right.  The fact is that when someone votes, they are truly voting for what is right for themselves or their family at that particular moment in their life.  So really when we vote we are actually all voting for the same thing and we need to acknowledge this fact.  We are all voting for a way to improve our lives.  That is the core of each and every person’s decision when they put that cross in the box.  The problem is that we are all living different lives!  When we vote against a party policy it isn’t because that policy is definitely wrong, it is just wrong for our life at that time.

We therefore cannot criticise each other for the way we voted because we can only live our own life.  Until we walk in our neighbour’s shoes we can’t judge them for there opinions.  All we can do is know that their choice was what was right for them.

So all those comments saying “oh well done UK, you’ve ruined the country now,” or “how could you vote that way you idiot” are useless.  People don’t vote because they think they are going to save the country or ruin the country, they don’t vote to piss their fellow voters off, they vote for their own tiny network of friends and family and therefore however they voted must be seen as right.

Life can change in the blink of an eye.  Someone who is doing okay at the moment might suddenly lose their job and have to start claiming benefits.  Maybe they voted Blue in the election because it was best for them when they had a good job and were supporting their family, but if they lose their job and need benefits then they might choose to vote Red next time because their circumstances and their priorities have changed.  Likewise someone who is struggling in life and really needed the benefits not to be cut might win the lottery (we can all dream!) and then their priorities will change too.  Next time they might vote for the party that will give them better interest rates!  We don’t know what we are going to need for the rest of our lives so we can only vote for what is right for us at the time.

What we should be saying to each other is just “well done for voting at all.”

Don’t judge friends that are upset about the result and say “your party’s ideas were rubbish anyway and would have ruined the country.”  That’s not going to help anyone.  Listen to the reasons why they voted the way they did, because I can assure you, you will learn something about a friend that you never knew.  Likewise don’t criticise a friend for being happy about the result, it doesn’t make them a bad person!  Ask them why they voted that way and again you will learn something from them.  There is nothing wrong with someone saying “my life is going ok at the moment and I want it to stay that way for as long as possible.”  There is nothing wrong with someone saying “we are really struggling and we need more help in these areas and that’s why we voted for…….”

We must be sympathetic and understanding to one another and remember that everyone’s vote was the right choice for them.  It might not have been the right one for you, but you aren’t living your friend’s life.  We must stop shouting and start supporting each other and our understanding of life will grow and our lives will be richer for it.

Here’s a lovely quote from Don Miguel Ruiz that sums it up perfectly:

“Don’t take anything personally.  Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.”  

Rant over, better get on with the novel now!  Have a good weekend everyone and I promise the next blog will be light hearted!