I recall watching old cowboy and western movies during my youth. On some of those films, genteel men expressed gratitude by saying, “much obliged”. This manner of expressing gratitude was impressive and seemed especially formal and classy. It seemed to express more authenticity and humility. Saying “much obliged” is one of those old-fashioned phrases I wish would make a comeback in society.
Since it is unlikely that this will happen anytime soon, it would be great to remember alternate ways of saying “thank you” to someone who has helped us through difficult situations and conveys the desire to reciprocate help if and when they need it. Not that there is anything wrong with saying “thank you”, there isn’t. It’s just that similar phrases might enable the giver and the receiver more pause for contemplation.
There’s the somewhat controversial saying, “You shouldn’t have”. This is sometimes still used when a friend brings an unexpected gift. While it expresses surprise, it might be interpreted the wrong way. The gift givers might feel that their generosity is misguided.
Then we have, “You’re too kind”. This is less controversial. It is understood that this is a more formal, polite way to say thank you. The phrase does not sound phony nor ironic. Yet I’m not comfortable saying this. However, perhaps I should cultivate this response. I’m undecided, though.
There is one expression that I feel comfortable saying that has the implicite meaning of “much obliged”–“I owe you one”. Alternatively, “I owe you big time”. This is a less formal way of saying thank you while also acknowledging the greater than usual effort given by the benefactor. In addition, society in general accepts this statement as sincere gratitude and an authentic expression of obligation. This is something I feel quite comfortable saying or writing.
However, there is still a part of me who wants to say “much obliged”. I’ve used it within my friends circle a few times but with mixed results. I’ve had to explain its meaning because some of my pals didn’t understand the phrase. Although my friends now understand that it is another way of saying “I owe you one”, the phrase still brings awkward responses. Hence, I’m reticent to say, “much obliged”.
In the end, there’s always the tried and true “thank you”. For added emphasis, it’s also proper to use: “thanks a lot”, “thanks so much”, “thanks very much”, and “thank you very much”.
Because today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, I feel indebted to everyone who has nurtured and helped me in some way throughout my life. I have a positive sense of true thanksgiving in mind, especially today. Happy Thanksgiving!
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders a statement from Sufi professor, musicologist, philosopher, and poet, Hazrat Inayat Khan. “A person however learned and qualified in his life’s work in whom gratitude is absent, is devoid of that beauty of character which makes personality fragrant.”