Thanksgiving Day having passed such a short time ago this seems an appropriate moment to look at the other side of the coin: at You'rewelcomegiving Day.
You'rewelcomegiving is that nonchalant, not-quite-smug, and rather indeterminately located holiday wherein we take the time to celebrate one of the only three things that America has ever given to the culture of the world that are totally unalloyed, pure, joyous improvements (the other two being of course the Marshall Plan and Carrot Cake). Everything else---McDonalds, Hollywood, saying (but obviously not meaning) "Have a nice day", pointlessly expensive and choice-ridden coffee---have all been unmitigated disasters and have been to the culture of the world the equivalent of bovine spongeform encephalopathy or at least of a nasty bout of foot fungus.
Yes! Today we are going to celebrate America's giving to the world that... that golden phrase. That phrase at once so dismissive, so neutral, and yet so comforting. That phrase before which even the mellifluous might of a Shakespearian bon mot pales and quails and shimmers to naught. That phra...
at which point you are no doubt thinking "For God's sake stop!! You've made your point already!"
And now that I seem to have actually done just that, as your hackles start to relax, you are no doubt thinking "Well...THA-ANK you!"
. . .
See what a welcome phrase that phrase is?
And before you keep looking so quizzical for so long that the wind does change and you do stay that way, let me answer that other unspoken thought that is troubling you, for surely every last one of you is thinking "Hey? So what's the big deal with 'You're welcome'?"
The 'big deal' is probably best explained by considering thanks giving-and-receiving situations in a thoroughly non-American environment---Consider, if you will, my countrymen in their natural habitat.
When it comes to rendering up thanks we perform ...mmm... adequately, if perhaps in a rather stilted way (largely on account of our famous stiff upper lips). Ahh! But when it comes to the receiving of thanks from others then things really fall apart, because, ...you see, ...it is a fact that:...
That we English can only squirm, and mumble stuff like "Oh ...Oh ...think, think... um... think nothing of it"--which of course has the distinct disadvantage that it sets things up so that the giver of the thanks inevitably and immediately does start to think nothing of it! And so all our nobler actions are peremptorily dismissed and so over the years we develop a reputation for being somewhat fainéant and useless.
Now compare that tragedy of embarrassment and failure with the joys that are enjoyed by the citizens of this warm You'rewelcoming country:
instead of concentrating on the unworthiness of the receiver of thanks and the triviality of his act, the You'rewelcome-equipped American can reflect those thanks back onto the giver, redoubling it with the feeling that the chance to act in the thanks-deserving way was itself welcome and that the receiver has warm feelings towards the giver (probably in spite of the effort involved)---and this is of course without having to either think about what you are saying (since it is such a standard phrase) or, and this is even better, you don’t have to think about the annoying bugger who’s giving thanks---so what if you opened the door for them or saved their child’s life it’s all one to the You’rewelcome-giver, and it’s all done in such a economical phrase--- Ahh! What a wonder.
And no wonder we justly celebrate ‘You're welcome’ each time You'rewelcomegiving Day comes round... whenever that is.
So ‘Thank you so much’ to you all for listening...
. . .
. . .
(Ahh! . . . I know I'm welcome!)
So Cheerio for now
from Richard Howland-Bolton.
Yet another in my generous, but I fear ultimately doomed, attempts to give you guys more well-deserved holidays. (Just like this one)
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