Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dinner is Served. First Course: Gratitude


Oh, Christmas. Wasn't it great? Didn't you love that pretty stack of presents you got? I have pretty much made my way through an entire box of Whitman Samplers and I've played with nearly all of my toys and haven't broken even one of them yet.

Now you know what it's time for--thank you notes. It's what good and decent people write after receiving gifts. When they were younger, my boys used to get quite a few gifts from far-away relatives and after about a week or two of nagging at them to write thank you notes for their presents, I'd haul them to the table, place pens in their grubby little hands and tell them what to write and to whom. Once I got them going, they did pretty well, but as with most things like this, I had to be the Mama Bear and growl at them to get it done.

The other night I was wondering if they would do these notes on their own now that they are older or whether I'd have to remind them of it. I sighed a bit and then had my own flash of insight. Children (even older ones) learn by example. I couldn't remember ever writing a thank you note to my children for a Christmas gift. They had never seen me write one to HOB for that matter.

So, instead of preaching about writing thank you notes, I showed them the practice in action. When they sat down at dinner that night, at each place-setting was a thank you note from me, for my Christmas presents, and for the even more precious gift of being a part of their lives.

I wish I had thought of this when my children were younger. They would have seen me do exactly what I was asking them to do. They would understand how much a written card means and, more importantly, they would have experienced how it feels to acknowledge not just relatives who are far away, but also those people just across the table that we so often take for granted.

The real secret probably isn't a secret at all: I felt really good when I wrote those notes and gave them to my family members. It was a sweet, satisfying feeling to write down what I was grateful for.

Hope you'll take a suggestion from Betty and try this in your household. If you don't get a warm, happy feeling from it, I'll eat more chocolates just to make you feel better.

Just let me know.



45 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Betty, that is an excellent idea! Kids do what they see us do before they do what we tell them.
Have your kids done their thank you cards yet?

Anne Gallagher said...

I started Monster Baby writing thank you notes for birthday/Christmas presents when she was two. She's 6 now and she actually looks forward to writing them.

Santa Claus always leaves a thank you note for her for his milk and cookies (as a reminder). It's nice I don't have to nag.

And I love your idea about notes at dinner. That sounds like it would make a wonderful dinner party.

Jules said...

What a wonderful idea but I actually try to practice this year round. Sometimes just a simple note will lift a smile and we all know smiles are catching :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Tracy said...

Betty,
I totally agree...it's not something I look forward to but gosh, it certainly feels good when it is done. That is my job today...I would love to make some note cards and then get them sent out to family, friends and students. The other good thing is I can wisht them Happy New Year as well...

Flartus said...

Aargh, I have to admit my mother also did the traditional "Sit down and write your thank-you notes!" and it hasn't stuck. Did she write thank-you notes? Probably. In fact, she wrote them to my friends who hosted us at Thanksgiving this year.

I've heard that the etiquette is to write a thank-you note to the gifter who's not present when the gift was opened. I wonder if anyone is really aware of any of those rules anymore?

Oh, and thank you for offering your help by eating more chocolates if necessary. Your generosity is truly humbling.

Leah J. Utas said...

What a wonderful thing to do. Gratitude is always good.

Old Kitty said...

I emailed thanks to all my present givers!! I hope that counts!! Please have more chocolates! :-)

Take care
x

Parsley said...

Great idea!!! and geez...thanks for making me feel like a wart! hehe

I've never written my child a thank you but I've never forced her to write me one either. I've only forced her to write to others. Taught me a lesson for sure. ;-)

Peggy K said...

Okay, I'm all over this great idea!! Amazing that we never thought about it when our kids were younger.
Now, regarding the chocolates: I've been a good girl and have given up chocolates for the holidays (and thereafter) so if you wouldn't mind having one or two for me, I'd so appreciate it.

Theresa Milstein said...

Never thought of it that way. We always send to everyone else, but not to the people in our household. Nor my mother and father in law. I did once, and my MIL said, "Don't ever send a thank you card again." Her feeling is that we're too close to have to do those kinds of things.

Speaking of, I have to do thank you's for my students + have my kids do them for relatives.

Leanne said...

Betty - you ARE MY HERO!!! And I am going to steal (that's not very nice, is it?) this idea for New Years! It's SO my cup of tea, and I can't think of a better thing to do than to write a letter to Katie, Ella and PG and tell them how grateful I am for them! Thank you so much for helping keep focus on what really matters in this life of mine. LOVE THIS!!!

Gigi said...

How timely is this post - as I just mailed off my thank you notes. I will have to take your suggestion to write one to my nearest and dearest to heart - I suppose they could do with some thanking too.

Seams Inspired said...

I do this with my kids, Betty! They love to get notes from Momma. And, you're right...it does leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside after writing all that gratitude down on paper. Thank you! :o)

Brian said...

That is a great idea and a simple solution to that nagging procrastination problem. Happy New Year!

Daisy said...

Sweet post and a great idea, Betty! Those whom we are closest to certainly ought to hear about our gratitude to them. I bet there were smiles all around as a result of your notes. :-)

LittleSilkDress said...

Betty, you always post such insightful entries. I am saving this so I remember it when I have children of my own someday. Such an important lesson! Thank you for sharing.

Michelle Faith said...

I've always been a mama bear about thank you notes aswell. I even tell them that sending notes for gifts will not only make them feel good about themselfs but will show the sender of the gift you care and they will be sure to remember you next year. I have to say its something people don't do anymore and It is a shame. I like the your dinner idea!

Mamma has spoken said...

I've tried this and it still didn't work. I show the sons how to write thank-you cards, I buy the thank=you cards, and they are still sitting on my desk. When I nag them about filling them out, I get the I infamous, "I'll get around to it mom!" One son graduated from high school in June, he has yet to write one thank you note....

Gigi said...

Fantastic idea - really. Talk the talk and walk the walk. I may use this this week!

Ally said...

I'm all about sending thank you notes. Seriously, I have a stash at all times! Even when someone does something nice like make us dinner or treat us to something special. The only time I was taught a thank you is not necessary was when you're exchanging gifts. I always thought that if someone gives you a gift and you're handing them one - it's an even exchange. Ha ha! Guess I better rethink that one.

Madi and Mom said...

BB that was a very very nice and thoughtful thing to do. I have an adult child (39)...and just so you know they do REMEMBER all that you taught them when they were under your wing. Being a girl she was easier to get to write notes after one reminder. I often am told by others of the notes she sends then now!!
Happy New Year's Eve Eve.
Hugs Madi and Mom

baygirl32 said...

that is a GREAT idea

Baby Sister said...

That is a great idea!! I never thought of it before. Thanks for the suggestion. :)

Pat Tillett said...

Start eating that chocolate BB...
I'm convinced that this is not an age issue, but based on gender. I know of only a couple of guys (adults) who do this. That is why we get married! So our wives will do it for us.

BigSis said...

I love receiving thank you notes, but hate writing them. Even worse is hounding the 10 year old to write them. You are right though, it is a good thing to show by example.

Ann said...

Thank you notes are the best. I'm terrible at writing them though. I never know what to say other than the thank you part.

Shan said...

What a great idea. I'm positive it's not gonna work with Fynn, so just go ahead and get started on those chocolates. I'll let you know when she catches on.

Mellisa Rock said...

Thanks so much for the reminder. I really want to go out of my way to Thank my Aunt for all her help with 25 days of Christmas presents and keeping the kids while Hubby and I went shopping.

The Empress said...

I found this idea in family fun magazine about 5 years ago, and we began to do it at Thanksgiving.

The kids beamed when notes about them came up. I've kept all the notes, and we like to look at them.

It really is wonderful.

It works for both: the one receiving glows in the accolades, and the one writing has stopped and thought about what they really love about this person.

P.S> I love your little ornament decoration on the table. I'm so stealing that.

Sarah said...

Written letters/notes is a lost art in this day and age. Did you get one back from your kids?

Velvet Over Steel said...

What a Wonderful new tradition you have just given us all for our own families! Example is the best way to get our children to do things that we'd like them to do. I hadn't thought about the thank yous before, but you are so right! I always had to 'get' my boys to do that too when they were younger & hope they at least tell the person thank you now a days! I know my youngest son does.. because he still lives with me. :-)

I am so going to borrow your Great example/idea the next time we are all together! Thank you, Betty!!!!

Have a Wonderful, Safe & Happy New Years!!!
Hugs & Many Blessings!
Coreen

Catherine said...

That's such a sweet idea you had Betty ~ very nice!
Happy New Year friend!
xo Catherine

Catherine said...

That's such a sweet idea you had Betty ~ very nice!
Happy New Year friend!
xo Catherine

slommler said...

Writing thank you notes is truly a lost art!! And what a great example you are and have been to your kiddos. They will be so touched by their notes.
Thank you for your sweet example!!
Happy New Year hun
Hugs
SueAnn

welcome to my world of poetry said...

This reminds me of my favourite quoation: "Todays graditude buys you tomorrows happiness"


Happy New Year Betty.

Yvonne.

gayle said...

Great great idea! I love writing thank you notes! For some reason it didn't rub off on my grown daughters. I still have to nag them!

ethelmaepotter! said...

This truly IS a wonderful idea! I remember well my own mother having to drag us into writing those notes, and I having to do the same with my children. No more - I'll let you in on a little secret - haven't officially announced it yet - my daughter gave us the most precious gift on Christmas Day - WE'RE GOING TO BE GRANDPARENTS!!!!!
I am over the moon and have already been out shopping for baby items. Now I have a new tradition for that baby - we're going to write those thank you notes the Bossy Betty way!
(But please do have some of those chocolates - I'm having chocolate cake for breakfast as we 'speak.')

Liz said...

i fully admit to being lousy at this, and would you believe that craig is stellar at it? so much so that people will tell me how they got a card from him and how nice it was!

Laura said...

We grew up having to write thank you notes, and I remember my mom insistance on writing the notes. As an adult... well... not so much anymore. Thanks for the great idea.

Cheeseboy said...

That placemat thing is genius. Imay copy it next year. Maybe I will have them write their mom a placemat thank you too. Kids need to learn gratitude and this is a perfect way.

The Green Streak said...

I've been thinking about writing my thank you notes, but haven't done it yet. This inspires me! Thanks!

Dreamfarm Girl said...

I actually like writing thank you notes. I think somewhere along the way I was told I wrote good ones. See how little we need to make us want to do something?

Hilary said...

You're so full of lovely ideas and examples. What a sweet gesture.

loveable_homebody said...

This is a lovely idea. Few things feel as warm and loving as a reminder that you are appreciated and loved. My sister did something like this one year. It was so sweet, knowing that she took the time to recall great memories we had and talk about how I had enriched her life.

Like your kids, I didn't care much for this stuff when I was young. I don't know why. I'm glad you instilled it in them.

Merry Belated Christmas, Happy New Year and I'm sorry I haven't been here in so long! I must come back. Your posts and your comments on my blog have always been nice.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

That's a great idea! Our daughter is terrific at thank-you notes, but I am really terrible. I feel so bad just thinking about it that I'm going to eat some chocolate. Happy New Year, BBetty!