I was browsing around some of the other City Blogs when I stumbled across a post about thank you notes. The writer was describing her horrifying discovery of finding the notes she had written when her twins were born 9 years ago. They were still neatly sealed and ready for mail, hidden away in a box in her closet. It led her to an epiphany. The practice is a burden that causes stress and guilt for all involved. Now, she insists that no one ever send her a thank you note, ever again.
I, however, being an old-fashioned dinosaur, give my teenagers a deadline after every holiday and birthday to write to their benefactors. I realize that it is a dying tradition, due mostly to the fact that a simple text or email give immediate results for zero cost.
And yet, I still cling to the exercise. I like the stationary and stamps, and the pen on paper. I like the idea of my kids taking a moment to think about the giver, the gift, and the thought behind it. In a world of “lol-smh-idk,” it is satisfying to see them put together a well-developed paragraph, punctuation and all. I know for them it is probably a chore. But, I hope, in the long run, it will give them insight into the gift of gratitude.
We recently received such insight from my hero – my husband’s grandmother. She is the “90-something” petite, red-headed, lioness of the family. She has been incredibly generous with us all – her three children, her 8 grandchildren, and her 14 great-grands, plus spouses. My son has developed a lovely pen pal relationship with her, and she recently sent him the.best.letter.ever. It was a thank you note for his thank you note. I’d like to share a selection with you now:
“Not many of my receivers of birthday checks write thank you – sometimes I might send those people a birthday check without signing the check. Then they would have to ask me to sign it. Ha-Ha.”
That’s just gangsta, and she gets mad respect from me. But my point is this – expressing thanks isn’t a requirement or a debt owed for a gift. It is the grateful acknowledgment that you are loved and that you return that love. And if someone like Nana has been showering you with said love for years and years, sending a little piece of mail her way should be a joy, not a job.
So, everyone under my roof will continue to write, and I will continue to buy stationary in bulk. And I will keep teaching my children that whether it is a candle or a college fund, giving thanks is a gift given both ways.