When I turned 8-years-old, I got 25 cents and a card for my birthday from my friend Jeanie’s Grandma Higgins, and my mom had me write a thank you note.
Three times. To get my handwriting just right.
When I gave Grandma Higgins the thank you card, the entire family ooohed and aahed over how amazing my handwriting was. “Wow, what a neatly written thank you card. What a nice thing, that you wrote a thank you note.” I heard them say.
If they only knew how many rewrites it took. But it did make me feel good.
Now, I’ll leave it to individual opinion, as to whether that was overkill to have me rewrite the thank you card three times till the handwriting was acceptable. That’s for another post. But, I did learn the importance of writing thank you notes from my parents because they required them of me on various occasions. When someone did something for me or when someone gave me a gift.
Gratefulness starts in the home.
I have gone through seasons when I have personally been better than other times writing thank you notes; since my January Accident, I am so behind. So many people reached out and brought our family meals and gave my kids rides and took me to the doctor and helped with laundry and cleaning. I am so humbly grateful; yet I am still struggling and people tell me not to worry about a note in this situation. I still do. And, at the same time, I so appreciate the grace shown me.
There is nothing better than receiving a physical, hand-written note of thanks from people for an effort made.
I have received thank you notes from friends for birthday gifts and meals, from past students thanking me for teaching; from members of the youth groups and Bible studies I have led; from groups I have spoken to and from my friends’ kids and from family. It is always so appreciated. Especially the snail mail kind of thanks.
My twins have been sending out requests for letters of recommendation for their Eagle Scout honor as well as for their college applications. They’ve sent out requests to mentors, to youth group leaders, to teachers and to pastors.
They told me about how one of their teachers made the comment, that he writes so many letters of recommendation for students but then he never hears from those students again; and it’s bothersome. No appreciation shown.
People notice if you write thank you notes. And, remembering to do so starts in the home, it starts from what parents teach their kids are the important thing to do.
Two nights ago, one of my twins, 18, asked me to help him make chocolate chip cookies to give to a couple of teachers at school who were helping him with his college applications and who were writing letters of recommendation. He also was looking for our family’s stash of thank you notes.
I loved seeing the effort he was making writing his notes of appreciation, crafting his words carefully to show how grateful he was. I did not tell him to do this; he did this on his own.. My other twin son was also making quite the effort to show his gratitude toward those who were assisting him during this season in their lives. I saw Starbucks gift cards on his dresser that were addressed to certain folks. I am so proud of my kids for how they are showing appreciation to people, without me reminding them to.
It’s important to talk to our kids about having a thankful spirit. Gratefulness is taught. And it is often learned when it is required. Saying Thank You is important. And, we can all tell which kids have been taught to say thank you and to be appreciative — the kids who offer the verbal thank you’s when you give them a ride or you offer them treat in your home are the ones who you know are hearing it from their parents. It starts with the verbal thank you’s.
But, it’s important to also teach our kids to go beyond a verbal thank you, to crafting a physical note of appreciation in certain situations. Perhaps for Birthday gifts. Christmas presents. And Letters of recommendation. The Art of the Thank You is learned etiquette.
I personally have some catching up to do since my accident, and I know I need to give myself grace, but still it hangs over me. My kids are serving as an example to me.
Did your parents require you to write thank you notes for birthday presents? What about for random things people did for you? Do you encourage your children to pen notes of appreciation? How do you build gratefulness into the lives of your children? Did your parents talk to you about these things?
[Link to a list of past posts in my #Write31Days series on Finding Your Parenting Philosophy is here: Finding Your Parenting Philosophy]