Entitlement is a strange thing. Back in the good old days people thought they were only entitled to the things they worked their butts off to obtain. Now people go around whipping "rights" out of their pockets and thinking they deserve everything from free health care and good jobs to large inheritances and huge houses. They expect the "government" (ahem, taxpayers) to provide those things for them, even if they don't put a cent toward those things themselves. (Since when do you have a right to anything you refuse to pay for yourself?).
And, so, we get letters like this one to "Dear Abby":
My husband's grandson just graduated from the eighth grade. Because he lives in another part of the state we were unable to attend the graduation, but we sent him a graduation card with $5 enclosed.
My husband's daughter called to acknowledge the card "for" her son. Then she asked if my husband was having financial difficulties because he sent only $5 while some of her friends gave her son $50. She said we should have sent more. My husband was so shocked by her insensitivity that he hung up on her.
His daughter did not call or send a card on Father's Day. However, today we received a card from his grandson thanking us for the $5 and saying if we had dug deeper and added $1, he could have bought a slice of pizza.
Abby, how do we respond to these two?
— Hurt Grandparents, Anaheim, Calif.
First of all, I have the nagging feeling that somewhere, somehow, the father of this repulsive woman probably bears some of the responsibility for his daughter turning out so poorly. But that's a subject for another post. What I'm curious about is how a gift went from being something that is unexpectedly given and gratefully received to something that is not only demanded, but expected to meet a certain standard as well.
Why do people feel they are entitled to gifts? Especially money? (I simply hate those money-only baby showers and the like. Asking for money is just so tacky). And why is it that children feel okay about putting their greedy little paws all over their parents' hard earned cash, refusing to show even the tiniest bit of decency by waiting until their dear ones have dearly departed?
What a great lesson this mother is teaching her son: if you think someone is being stingy with his choice of gift, write him a note and say something snotty about how the gift didn't live up to your expectations.
If I were that kid's grandfather I would have to hold myself back from demanding that my $5 be returned so I could give it to someone else who would appreciate it. But, as I think that most gifts should be given with no strings attached - no expectations of a thank you or qualifications as to how the money will be spent or what the gift will be used for, I suppose that wouldn't match my philosophy. Certainly a thank you is nice (and should be offered by any person with an ounce of politeness in her soul), but a screw-you does wonders: it informs you when a person probably doesn't deserve gifts in the future. I mean, who wants to continue giving to an ungrateful brat who turns up his nose at heartfelt generosity? Oh, I know that $5 isn't much, but the fact of the matter is that it was money that had to be earned, and was generously shared.
You know, I always was always flabbergasted by the biblical story of the ten lepers, only one of whom returned to thank the Savior for healing him of his terrible disease. But nowadays, I bet the other nine would come back, not to say thank you, but to complain about not having their male-pattern-baldness remedied as well.
It kind of makes you long for the good old days, doesn't it?