Saturday, December 29, 2012

Writing Thanks

Mandatory Writing Activity

My two youngest children are not big fans of the Handwritten Thank-You Note.  When asked to write one, my son has been known to play the environmentalist card. He objects, “How many trees have needlessly died due to thank-you notes?”  Youngest Daughter zigzags between complete entitlement syndrome and clingy hugs of thanks, but rarely wants to spend time expressing her thanks in writing.  Oldest Daughter is a bright light, willing to write a note cheerfully and appropriately.

At my church’s adult ed class, just before Thanksgiving, we had a session on gratitude.  We spent most of the hour just writing a thank you note or two. It was easy to do, when I had that hour set aside for the task, and when someone handed me a blank notecard.  But I fear I myself have lost the discipline of the thank-you note.

At our family Christmas celebration, some of the seven teenagers showed little sign of gratitude.  I had to prompt my younger two to say thanks, as if they were five-year-olds.  After the gift-giving exchange, my sister-in-law said to me, “Most of those kids didn’t even say ‘thank you’!”  This was especially galling since she had hand-knitted them some gorgeous items.  
Lovely sock, knitted by my sister-in-law.
No need to knit the second sock, as YD
never wears matching socks.

My mother, who was not able to join us for the festivities because of my Dad’s condition, had spent valuable time selecting gifts for each of us.  She called later and asked how each person had received her gifts.  Clearly she was heartbroken not to be there with us.

When we got home from our travels I decided to take action.  Today I told the kids, “This afternoon there will be a mandatory writing activity for all the children.”  This includes my niece, who is with us for a visit.  She is notorious for not sending any sort of message in response to packages sent to her at college. 

I cleared off the dining room table.  When this happens in the Common Household, it means something serious is happening.  I located all my blank notecards, pens, and some lined paper. Finally, I assembled the teenagers themselves at the dining room table.  On the lined paper, each of us made a list of gifts we had received.  I had the kids circle the names of people who had not been there when we opened the gifts.  Then I had them underline the names of people who were at least 10 years old than they.  Thank-you notes to both groups were required. 

We spent about an hour on this activity.  My husband even joined in.  The six of us produced 25 hand-written thank-you notes.  If I had planned it better, I could have put many of the notes in one envelope and saved postage, but in the end I'm happy to spend the $11 to mail them separately.  Won’t it be nice for those elderly relatives to have a full mailbox?!


Cassi Renee said...

I'm all in agreement here. Emma will gladly create thank-you notes, although the effort is usually more in the creation of an elaborate card than in the actual words. Still, we require thank-you notes to both sets of grandparents at birthday and Christmas, plus notes to the friends who attended her birthday party.

It probably does mean a bit more to the older generations, but who doesn't love getting a personal note in the mail, mixed in with all those bills and ads?

Angie said...

I had to remind my boys to say thank you once or twice, too. And you are a step ahead of us with the cards. We haven't gotten to them yet this year.

Suburban Correspondent said...

This is an excellent idea!

The Crislers said...

We're doing our thank-you's tomorrow, because if I don't do them then, they won't get done at all. I don't remember ever writing thank-you's after Christmas, which is kind of shameful. Someday your children will thank you!