The giving of thanks is something of an institution in our house. I would like to tell you that it was because of some profound sense of gratitude that I felt toward the universe that first set me on this path. I would also like to report that this over-arching insistence on "please" and "thank you" was generated by a deep-seated sense of politeness. I would like to tell you these things, but they would not be completely true.
Here is the truth: When I first moved in with the lovely woman that would become my wife, I felt this overwhelming need for approval for every little thing I did. I wanted thanks for passing the salt, and was willing to pay for it by responding in kind. This met with some resistance, initially, as my wife wanted to suggest that certain interactions carried "an implied please or thank you." Without a third party to adjudicate such matters, we limped on into the first five years of marriage with enforced politeness as part of our household traditions. By the time our son came along, we were practiced in the art, and he has grown up in a world that he understands needs to be asked courteously and then appreciated in turn.
And somewhere along the line, it stopped being ironic. It became worthwhile and gratifying on its own. Being thanked for doing the dishes or taking out the trash was a gift all its own. There was value in that little connection, and the cap stone "you're welcome" was the perfect resolution to the piece. On any given day, we do this dance a dozen times or more. And it doesn't get old. Sure, every so often one of us forgets the rules and begs for something only to be reminded, "you didn't say the magic word." Sometimes this onus falls on visitors to our tiny kingdom, and they become perplexed or antagonistic about the demands being made on them. The ones who play along are asked back. It makes for a much nicer kingdom.
Today is the day when we give thanks, and so I'm asking us all to remember that before we we do that, we all say "Please."