It’s almost the end of the month and the holiday is over – almost. In our house it is not really over until thank you notes, and in today’s world email thank you notes, are sent. A thank you note teaches your child to stop, think and reflect on the individual gifts they were given and what it meant to them to receive that gift. It also helps them begin to understand the value of that gift in a more concrete way.
Telling the giver how much they appreciate that gift and why in a thank you note will help your child focus on each individual gift – a worthy task in a season where gifts can come in abundance and dull a child’s senses and appreciation for what they have been given.
My girls are 22 and 20 this year. For most of their life, I have kept a list during the holiday, not the “who’s naughty and nice” list, but the “who was to be thanked” for remembering them during the holiday. In the (very) early years, we took a weekend day and spread paper and crayons and markers all over the kitchen table so we could create our thank you notes. Always, my list was there for them to see who they needed to remember.
As they got older, my thank you list lost home addresses and started to include email addresses. Then, a few phone numbers for them so they could call those far away. Today, the list is theirs to keep. This was the first year I just forgot to make the thank you list for the girls and to my surprise, they remembered to say and send thanks all on their own.
Now, it may not have been “my way” of handwritten notes longer than a sentence or two, but they did send them via email. I don’t get to see them anymore, but occasionally the receiver will tell me how much they appreciated the notes from one of my daughters, and even read it to me. As a parent, that’s one of the best moments.
Allison, my oldest, is graduating from college this year, and her thank you skills are starting to help in her job search. She is good at thanking people in a way that lets them know she really thought about what she is grateful for. At a recent job interview over her holiday break from school, we debated whether she should send a handwritten note to all she met or an email thanks. Her dad and I thought handwritten would distinguish her from the pack – she thought email. So, we suggested she ask the senior executive who got her in for the interview what she thought would be best.
An email thank you was recommended by the executive. She said that the people Allison interviewed with were on the road for weeks at a time and the handwritten note, while very nice, would not reach them for a long time – and could very well get lost in the mountain of mail that accumulates when on the road. She said the email thanks would strike while the iron was hot and while Allison was still on their mind. Email it was then, and for excellent reasons her father and I just did not think about.
The skill of writing a thank you note is getting lost in today’s busy world. That’s a shame but good news for those of us that still hold it close as one of life’s most important social skills. When our thank you notes show up, they will get noticed. So don’t neglect to push on this with your kids – it’s a long-term investment that pays off for everyone.