Writing thank-you cards has become somewhat of a lost art these days. I remember when I was growing up, my Mom insisted that we write them to each of the people who had given us a gift at Christmas. I’m sure my siblings and I grumbled about it, but I know that it really meant a lot to the recipients (when my Grandma died and we were going through her stuff, we found a box with all of the cards and letters we had written to her over the years).
I have carried on this tradition, because I think it is important that my daughter learns the importance of saying thank-you and being appreciative of what she is given (it is too easy to take things for granted). I remind her of the time the giver took to purchase the gift for her, and how a note of appreciation will only take a few minutes of her time.
My daughter doesn’t exactly look forward to this task (i.e. there are many things she would prefer to be doing), but the right thing to do is not always the most ‘fun’. Having said that, there are things that can be done to make it a little less onerous. Given that this doesn’t require a huge amount of concentration (you are asking them to write a simple thank-you card, not a Nobel prize-winning speech), my daughter enjoys listening to some music while she works. In addition, I don’t require that all cards be completed in one sitting, although there is definitely something to be said for getting it done as soon as possible. I give her a ‘deadline’ to work towards (if it’s left too long, it loses its meaning) and then give her the freedom to do it when she pleases, without nagging (that’s my plan, anyway).
If you’re going to have your children write thank-you cards, then you’re going to want to keep track of who gave what (once they get a bit older, your children should be responsible for this). This list can be handed to your child who can then cross each name off when their card has been completed (it gives them a feeling of accomplishment and helps them keep track of where they’re at). Seeing a list of the gifts they received also acts as a bit of a ‘reminder’ of what they got and of how lucky they were.
When my daughter was younger, she sometimes made her cards, but that can get a bit overwhelming (she usually has around 12 – 14), so I have no problem with purchasing a package or two of Thank-You cards at the dollar store (I take her with me and let her choose the ones she wants).
I leave the message to her, but it should include a reference to the actual item that the person gave her, not just a generic “Thank-you for your gift.” People like to know that you remember what they gave you and that you appreciate it. If the individual gave money, it’s always nice to indicate what you spent it on or, if you haven’t spent it yet, what you plan to possibly spend it on in the future. If you have multiple children, they can all write a little note of thanks on the same card (especially if you are planning to send it in the mail, where multiple stamps could get a bit costly).
I realize that this is but another task at an already busy time of year, but teaching your children to express their gratitude is well worth the time!