The holidays are about traditions. Some holiday traditions are generic and some are unique to the family, some are old and some new. At some point, the job of passing on these traditions shifts from the grandparents, to parents of young children. It’s not discussed, it just happens that way. Family traditions need repetition in order to carry on, much like good habits need repetition to stick. In our half Jewish family, we do a great job with the traditions surrounding Christmas, but we are lousy about lighting the menorah at Hanukkah. This year we only remembered the first day, shame on us.
Actually, shame on my husband and me, because we need to be the ones to carry out these traditions so that they become ingrained in our children’s experience of the holidays. It’s that whole lead by example thing. Something else the kids won’t continue to do, if we don’t, and that is to properly thank their relatives for gifts received.
It’s easy to open a box under the tree, but someone made an effort to pick the gift out. Maybe they even waited in an irritatingly long line at the post office to mail it. They didn’t do it for the recognition, they did it out of love. In my opinion, they deserve more than an email or a text. Yes, even if the gift arrived in an Amazon box.
Grandparents, aunts and uncles love receiving a physical note of acknowledgement of the gifts they sent. It’s not as good as a hug or a phone call, but it is still personal. Children may not be enthusiastic about writing thank you cards, I know mine are not. They may not know what to say. They may not know how to address an envelope.
Strategies for Helping Kids Write Thank You Notes
- Pre-address the envelopes for your young children. Small children love applying the stamp.
- Show your older children how to address the envelope and where you keep addresses of relatives.
- Write out a simple script for your younger children to follow when writing the card. Ask your child to write something specific about the gift they received (I have already built my new Star Wars Lego set) or something that they like about the giver (thanks uncle Joe, I love that you play guitar too, maybe we can play together soon).
- Have the cards ready to be tackled after snack time or before video game time on the weekend.
- My neighbor used this brilliant strategy: Insert a few family photos into a Word document and print out enough copies as you need cards to send. Place the printouts on the kitchen counter with a sticky note of who the recipient is. In assembly line fashion have each member of the family hand write a short note to the recipient and ta da!
- Order your children their very own personalized stationery, especially as they get ready to go off to college! Tell them where to buy postage stamps (other than the post office).
Personal thank you notes show gratitude and reaffirm connections with relatives. Hopefully this good habit turns into a tradition in our family. My hope is that one day, when I am the grandma or someone’s distant aunt, someone much younger than me will keep up this tradition and maintain a connection with those older or living far away.
featured image: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels