|Caroline writes her thank-you after perusing the list. She's an early reader, too, and writes better than I did at her age.|
'Tis the time of year when we give thanks. No, not the November eating holiday, but the post-Christmas thanks-giving to which I was rigorously subjected in childhood and to which my children also adhere: the writing of thank-you notes to family and friends who were generous enough with their thoughts, time, and resources to send a Christmas remembrance to them.
My own mother was adamant about thank-you notes. We received stationery on gift-giving occasions from her so that there were no excuses, and before we were permitted to play with the toy, read the book, or spend the money, a note to the giver had to be duly dispatched. Although my brother and I rolled our eyes and complained at the great effort, it ingrained a habit in us that we have passed along to our own respective children, to take a few short moments to connect with the giver in thanks. As we grew, it would have felt odd to use something given to us without having written our notes. My ever-efficient brother got to a point where he'd write his notes before Christmas dinner was served.
It doesn't take much. My 4-year old daughter writes only the basics: dear Aunt and Uncle, thank you for the gift, love Caroline. My 9-year old son has been instructed to write a real thank-you note, which has a salutation, a thanks for the gift, something nice about the gift, and well wishes for the giver along with his closing. It only takes him a few minutes to dash off a note, and over the past few years, he's gotten quite good at it, even with handling a diplomatic situation in which the giver meant well but the gift was entirely not to his taste.
Over the past few years, I've had relatives compliment me for having my children write these thank-yous, and I personally think it's a sad commentary on modern times that more children are not compelled to thank those who are generous to them, with more than an email or a phone call. Of course a written note is a nod to days gone by -- but so are many gestures of thoughtfulness, and that is why we preserve them.
Have you written your thank-you notes?