Posts tagged " thank you notes "

Gifts Galore

December 9th, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting No Comment yet

A lot of presents will be given over the next month, many of them to children. While some of the presents will come from aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends, parents will also spend a great deal of time and money choosing just the right items for their children. After all that work, they might expect to sit back and relax.

Not so quickly. Shopping for and distributing presents and watching your children receive gifts from others brings with it a number of parenting opportunities. Preparing in advance will make the entire episode not only more positive but also more pleasant. Let’s divide them into before, during and after.

Before: Discussing in advance how to react to a disappointing or duplicate gift, practicing saying thank you out loud and with a smile (and maybe a hug), and making clear house rules such as, “No using a present until the thank-you card is written” is so much better than waiting until those discussions are needed.  Here’s where role-playing really shines. Have fun with little ones (and not so little ones) by pretending to give gifts that are not on the “most desired” list. You play Aunt Matilda giving Ashley math flash cards and when Ashley actually gets a box of handkerchiefs (do they still make handkerchiefs?), hopefully she will muster a big smile.

During: One of the frustrating things about holidays is that the reality often doesn’t match the anticipation. Some kids (and adults) have a really hard time when schedules, menus and sleep are off kilter, as they often are during special occasions. Preparing easy-to-access healthy snacks, monitoring sugar consumption, and scheduling in quiet time can make all the difference.

After: Even in our virtual world, physical thank-you notes matter. Learning to express  detailed gratitude in writing is one of those old-fashioned lessons that will yield unexpected benefits down the road. Of course, role modeling this idea is more valuable than lecturing about it.   

I’m sure you have many more practical life lessons for this time of year. I’d love to hear them.

thnx 4 gr8 time – originally posted May 7, 2009

December 26th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

A few weeks ago while expressing my reservations about Twitter I mentioned that I encouraged my children to write handwritten notes of thanks or sympathy. One reader wrote in asking why. In her words:

What’s wrong with an email? Both take time to write isn’t one just a modern form of the other?

That got me thinking. On occasion (I wish I could say rare occasion but that wouldn’t be truthful) my children oh so delicately suggest that I often pretend that a lot of the modern world doesn’t exist. They might say this when I insist that the movie rating system has a typo and PG13 is actually PG31 or when I advocate the usage of the phrase “dearie me” when they need to articulate a particularly strong emotional response.

So, I stopped to take a second look at the issue. Do handwritten notes intrinsically have greater value than email or am I urging the equivalent of writing with a quill vs. using a ball point pen. I think I need to argue for the first view.

Email is wonderful in many ways. It is immediate, inexpensive, and easy to disseminate. Like so many things in life, its strong points are the same as its weak points. Sending an email birthday card to someone is as simple as clicking a link and I think it is fine to respond to an instant card with an instant response. But surely if someone takes the time to go to a store, purchase a card and mail it, let alone if he sends a present, he deserves a response that shows some hint of effort.

Because emails can be written and sent so spontaneously, they tend to be full of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and potential double meaning. The whole point is to write and click, not to read over, examine and analyze. We’ve all had the frustrating experience of needing to rewrite a handwritten letter when we see errors in it. This is exactly one of the reasons that we pay more attention when we receive snail mail. By definition, someone spent time and energy composing it.

My husband and I recently received a beautifully written card from a 21 year old friend of our daughter who had spent a few days with us over Passover. That card will be kept and re-read, not deleted. The care taken over it even led me to call the girl’s mother and share it, so that she could take pride in her daughter’s good manners. My son recently visited a friend’s home where the mother showed him how she had framed a thank you he had written her after she had offered him hospitality years ago. Would email notes evoke the same response? I don’t think so.

I love email. But when something meaningful needs to be said, email seems to be the equivalent of serving a microwave meal rather than a home cooked dinner. It may fill the basic requirements, but it doesn’t quite do the job.

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