Thank you lessons
There is only ONE THING you are permitted to say
Yes, my mother taught her children to write thank you cards, pretty much limited to relatives who sent birthday or Christmas presents. There was a protocol that went, “Dear xxxx, Thank you for the xxxxx. Maybe a comment on how nice it was. Maybe a word about one’s health or the weather. Thank you again, Love, me.” An addressed envelope, return address, a stamp. Now quaint life skills. I carried this on with my grandmother until she was in her nineties, and believed it was why she continued to send me an unvarying ten dollars each year.
But, I learned another important lesson from an unexpected source, which has proved broadly useful. It happened when my sweetheart and I signed up for a smattering of local adult education midlife topics such as bird watching, languages, photoshop–and bridge. Barbara was a wonderful teacher, initiating us not just in the rules of the game, but bridge culture. We learned how to bid, how to finesse, how to play the cards and trump. But the most important lesson was knowing what to do when you have won the bid, your partner proceeds to lay down their hand as the “dummy”, and you and the other players get to see those cards. At that moment of truth, facial expressions can tip your opponents and make you lose the game. Further, in outrage at seeing the cards, partners have come to blows, and marriages have foundered. And so, dear students, you cannot show your emotions, call each other names, or upend the table. There is only ONE THING you are permitted to say at that moment, in an even and pleasant voice: “Thank you, partner.”