Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day: Saying Thank-you

December 26 is the beginning of Kwanzaa and the feast of St. Stephen. And warm wishes to all who mark these observances. It is also Boxing Day. According to our friends at Wikipedia, the possible origins of that holiday are numerous.  Here are the British origins:

In the United Kingdom, it certainly became a custom of the nineteenth-century Victorians for tradesmen to collect their "Christmas boxes" or gifts on the day after Christmas in return for good and reliable service throughout the year. Another possibility is that the name derives from an old English tradition: in exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowners' Christmases ran smoothly, their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food). In addition, around the 1800s, churches opened their alms boxes (boxes where people place monetary donations) and distributed the contents to the poor.

For us, Boxing Day may be a reminder to say thank-you to our support staff whenever possible. It is also a reminder to educate our students in the practice of saying thank-you to those who assist them.

Here is an example, when a  student asks me for multiple reference letters—for example letters to every judge in creation who might give the student a clerkship—I tell the student that  my secretary will be doing the heavy  lifting. I strongly encourage the student to say thank-you to  her with a small present, a box of candy,  flowers, etc. I think my secretary deserves a gift. I also hope that I am instilling in the student the concept of saying thank-you to future secretaries and paralegals.


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