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Christy Catherine Marshall

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January 7, 2007

A couple of years ago, I read a great tip in Lisa Whelchel’s online journal. She said she gives each of her children a new box of stationery for Christmas. These are for writing thank-you notes.

Here’s something she says about it in a Focus on the Family article, “Holidays and Kids — Maintain Control,” by Jesse Florea:

“We have a tradition of putting new stationery in our kids’ stockings at Christmas,” Lisa says. “It’s more fun to write thank-you notes if you’re writing on new stationery.”

She has her kids write a thank-you note before they play with the gift.

“It teaches a nice principle of thinking of other people,” Lisa says. “If someone took the time to buy you a gift, then you need to take the time to write and thank them right away.”

I was so glad to read that! I’ve struggled with getting my kids to write thank-you notes (probably because I struggle with it too). I’ve been remiss the past couple of years — and felt guilty about it.

I’m curious. Do you think adults need to write thank-you notes to each other if a gift is received in person? It’s certainly a thoughtful gesture, going the extra mile. But if I don’t write them, am I breaking rules of etiquette? Does anyone know? These days, I think a phone call or email work fine too. Of course, if you didn’t receive the gift in person, you should in SOME way let the person know you received it and thank them for it.

I do think it builds gratitude in children when they sit down and write out a thank-you note. After all, in the rush of ripping through paper, sometimes it’s hard to even remember who gave them their gift. Even if all the note says is, “Dear Grandma, thank you for the new Bionicle. It’s cool. Love, __.”

This afternoon, I was so proud of my six-year-old daughter who got out her new “fairy” stationery and penned notes to her aunts, uncles, and grandparents. She sealed them all — so I’m sure they’re full of creative spelling and lots of love. That got her siblings moving — and now the notes are all written! I didn’t do anything this year except give each child a list of who gave them what (which I jotted down a couple of days after Christmas).

From one mom to another. Thanks, Lisa!

5 Responses to Lisa Whelchel’s Tip: Thank-You Notes