Back when I was in college, my dad one time told me I was "too gracious". I actually looked gracious up in the dictionary because I didn't think he was using it right. Turns out he was using it fine. He was saying I was too "courteous, kind, and pleasant". And he was saying it like it was a bad thing.
The comment stemmed from something that happened earlier that week. It was January. Cold. Wet. Snowy. Icy. In other words, gross. I was driving home from college and got a flat tire on Route 6, a semi-major highway. Semis were flying by. No one stopped to help. I couldn't get the tire off to change it. Bleh.
I ended up walking to a business down the road to see if I could use their phone. (Here I date myself. Yes, this was before cell phones.) They let me call my dad and then let me hang out in their lobby until he came. I thought that was nice of them.
Later that week, I sent them a thank you card and a few bucks for the phone call. (I didn't know how much phone calls were. Only that I could only call long distance after 7 p.m. and even then couldn't stay on the phone long, so they must be expensive. Ah, the good ole days.)
Dad said I was "too gracious". I thought it was the right thing to do. Without that business, I would've been at the mercy of some crazy truck driver. That hardly seemed safe.
I've thought about that comment a lot over the years. Why was it such a bad thing to thank someone for doing something nice?
I think he was concerned about my personality in general and was using that as an example. I know he thought I was soft. I should've been tougher. I was going to get walked on. Used. Hurt. He was right, to an extent. There was probably a balance between feeling like I owed someone for every simple act of kindness and just accepting the kindness and moving on. Taking from this world as much as I give. Stuff like that.
But I'm not that kind of person. I am truly grateful for every nice thing anyone's ever done for me. I try hard not to "return the favor" every time, but I hate feeling like I owe someone something. Even when they say I don't.
This all relates in some way to my belief in karma. That good things happen to good people. That what goes around comes around. To treat others how I want to be treated. All things, I might add, my dad taught me.
I'm not sure where all this is coming from, but it's a thought I've been having lately. Can someone be "too gracious"? Can you be gracious and still have a backbone? Do nice people always finish last? Will I ever be OK accepting a "just because" gift from a friend? :-)
If you can answer these questions, I'd really appreciate it. But I won't do anything in return except say thank you.