We are in that sweet spot between Thanksgiving and Christmas, where it seems that everything around us takes a soft curve—or a sharp right turn—from a spirit of gratitude to over-consumption. I don’t know about your family, but at my house, there are only a few hours between being thankful for what we have on Thursday and shopping the best deals on Friday. It’s hard to know how to navigate these waters, but the best way to claim the joy of the entire season is to keep the giving of thanks alive.
During this season especially, your kids will probably receive loads of gifts (and acts of service) from grandparents, relatives and friends. But the dangerous side effects of receiving such generosity are the pesky symptoms of expectation. You might even hear your children grumble and complain about how they didn’t get exactly what they wanted, and you’ll wonder who are these entitled little monsters you’ve created. But even if they are so overcome with elation that they leap to hug Grandma of their own free will, there’s an even more meaningful—but often neglected—way to express gratitude: the Thank-you note.
Thank-you notes are a lost art. We live in the days of oversimplified communication, acronyms and abbreviations for everything, and emojis for everything else. A handwritten letter is a novelty equal to a hand-painted carousel horse: so very nostalgic and hard to come by. But that’s what makes them even more meaningful.
A written note is proof on the page. The root of happiness is gratitude, but the tricky thing about thankfulness is that it only exists in the act; nobody knows you’re thankful unless you say so. When you write it down, everybody knows how you feel.
They show intent. A handwritten note says you unplugged from technology, set aside time, and returned to the most basic tools of written communication: pen and paper. There’s something beautifully intentional in a written note.
They’re fun to receive. Think about it: in a giant pile of window envelopes with bills and junk, your name on a colorful envelope catches your eye. How fun it is to receive a pocketful of sunshine in your very own mailbox. It’s so easy to give that gift to someone else.
Handwriting is an extension of a person. Have you ever happened onto a letter written long ago? The handwriting nearly breathes on the page. It’s a time capsule of the writer’s handwriting, message, voice, and even a good measure of their spirit. Even if it’s scrawled and messy, your handwriting is part of who you are. You can use it to carry your voice into the world.
And so I’m on a mission to revive the art of the thank-you note, in my own home, starting at my dining room table. Here are the tips and tricks I’ve found for making thank-you notes more than an ethereal relic of days gone by.
(Wish I could tell you the rest of the story here, but I interrupt this message to point you to Parent Cue, the parenting blog where I write once a month.
Click bait? Perhaps. Still worth it, I hope.)
(p.s. If you’re reading this and smiling to yourself because I owe you a thank-you note –
or worse yet, my kids do – then please just be awesome. And patient. By now you know I’m a hot mess who does her best.)