Nima- your biggest pet peeve tickled me! How many times have I done that and the kid gave me a blank look? Too many to count! Being on the receiving end of that, too, was a bit nerve-wracking when I first started working as a teen. It didn't take me long to get the hang of that, tho!
Manners and such. My mom was great at teaching us kids manners. It was always "please and thank-you," "yes sir and ma'am," "no sir and ma'am," don't speak when the adults are having a conversation, don't raise your voice to an adult or talk back, do what you're told when you're told to do it, etc. Thank you cards were a BIG DEAL in our house... nothing says "spoiled child" like an ingrateful attitude. We sent cards for any gift we got, whether it were a b-day or Christmas gift or simply a $2 bill from Gramma for Valentine's Day and Easter (which she actually sent every year when I was growing up). Gratitude is something I find lacking these days. It seems that at a child's birthday or Christmas, they EXPECT gifts... not just ANY gift, but one they have picked out themselves and told "so and so" that they want. It's a bit sad to me. As an aunt, it comes naturally that I want to spoil all my nephews, but last year, I had to tell my husband, enough is enough. I didn't want the boys to come to expect big things from us- what happens if this Christmas we don't have the kind of $$ we had last year to spend on them? So, I put my foot down and decided they would get one clothing item and one toy for Christmas. Thank-you cards are a personal way of saying that you took the time to think about the person and the gift that was given; they show gratitude and thoughtfulness.