She Speaks: Christmas thank-yous teach lessons of gratitude
One of my most favorite things about Christmas — and other special occasions that involve gifts, like birthdays and anniversaries — is writing thank-you notes.
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Christmas isn’t over quite yet. I’m still working on the last of my thank-you notes to family and friends.
I often joke about it, but it’s true: One of my most favorite things about Christmas — and other special occasions that involve gifts, like birthdays and anniversaries — is writing thank-you notes.
On Christmas morning I sit near our Christmas tree with paper and pen in hand, trying to jot down the gift-givers and their gifts as quickly as my three daughters unwrap their presents. I’ve learned to write really, really fast and abbreviate as needed. As I work on the thank-you list, I often find myself as giddy as my girls as they tear into their surprises. I do this with delight every year.
Then when all the unwrapping is done, so begins the real fun. For me, at least.
I have always enjoyed writing thank-you notes. The norm for me B.C. (before children) was to handwrite all my notes on personalized stationery and send them all out within a few days after Christmas.
But my reality now, with work and kids, means I never have enough time and my thank-yous have to include a mix of phone calls, texts and direct messages via social media. I did contemplate using this column as a blanket thank-you, but that thought lasted for just a quick second.
I will always prefer to write out notes. For the most part, that is what I do. My notes are handwritten on pretty paper or a card — and in cursive if I’m feeling extra fancy.
Life is crazy busy so if I can deliver all my thank-yous, whether texts or cards, within a month of Christmas (that means I still have 12 more days, right?), then that’s a win in my world.
I stick to a simple format when composing my Christmas thank-yous: I express gratitude to the gift-givers for their presents, I share why I appreciate their gifts and/or how I plan to use their gifts, and finally I wish them a Happy New Year.
Writing a thank-you note just makes me feel good and there are studies that confirm such mood-boosting, mental health-improving benefits of expressing gratitude.
Another bonus of this endeavor is showing my girls just how important it is to do, and hopefully they’ll make it a priority in their lives as they get older. For Christmas, I send thank-you notes on behalf of our entire family. But I do have my girls write their own thank-you notes for their birthdays. This is just one way I try to instill in my daughters the value of having a grateful heart.
I have a favorite quote by the late writer William Arthur Ward: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
And now to finally finish writing — and giving — those thank-yous.