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I Still Believe in Thank You Notes

I’m sure all of my friends and family are saying, “Yeah, right.” Because I don’t always write thank you notes. But I grew up writing them and I try (sometimes unsuccessfully) to get my kids to write them for big occasions like Christmas and birthdays.

Writing thank you notes is an ideal to shoot for and the sentiment behind it is what’s important.  My kids are especially shy, like I was. Sometimes they don’t manage a loud and clear “Thank You” at the birthday party or on Christmas mornings. I remember feeling a lot of anxiety that the person who gave me the present didn’t hear me say “thank you,” but I knew I could thank them specifically in a thank you note later. And so began my preference for written communication over face-to-face interactions.

I like having my kids write and send thank you notes. It may be the only actual letters they send all year. And while I’m not a total romantic about the lost art of letter writing, I’m kind of a romantic about the lost art of letter writing. You can download free fill-in-the-blank thank you cards for younger kids to use. Or you can give your kids their own personalized thank you cards as stocking stuffers. The important thing is to get them to slow down and be mindful about who took the time to pick out a present for them. It makes you enjoy your presents more to imagine grandma choosing it just for you. Sometimes you don’t even feel gratitude unless you take the time to write a thank you note, and then it comes.

But I’m not one to stand on ceremony. I think e-mail thank yous are better than no thank yous. During the holidays it is especially important not to let perfect be the enemy of good. I think it’s OK for kids to say thanks via e-mail, texts, or even Facebook if it’s specific and sincere. Besides, your kids could be doing a lot worse with technology than sending thank you notes to crazy Uncle Tom. Show them how technology can be a tool for civility, or they may never learn to use it that way.

Anyway, it’s just good manners. And, like Gandalf says, It’s the small things, every act of normal folk that keeps the darkness at bay. I hope your Christmas is merry and bright.

Read more of my writing at Babble or check out my blog, Every Day I Write the Book.

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