I'm grateful that "please" and "thank you" were instilled in me at a young age.
Especially the thank you's.
You see... since, oh I don't know, birth maybe... my mom made sure that, for any gift I ever received, a thank you note from me would go out in the mail in a timely manner.
As a little girl I loved sitting down at the kitchen table with her and a box of pretty stationery or note cards, going over her carefully penned list of birthday or Christmas gifts that had been given to me. I proudly used my "best handwriting" to let friends and relatives know how much I appreciated that they had thought of me.
As a pre-teen/teenage girl I remember Mom holding the checks that my relatives would send in the mail as gifts to me; until I wrote my thank you cards they couldn't be touched.
The thank you note had a few rules around it. Besides simply thanking the person for the gift I liked to mention the item specifically that they had given to me and if I had used it, let them know in what way, or how much I enjoyed it. And it should also include something personal, specific to the person the gift was from. For example:
Thank you so much for the loom you gave me for my birthday!
I love it and have made 32 potholders with it so far.
I am so glad you are my friend and were able to come to my birthday party.
I loved the rainbow and unicorn sweatshirt you wore!
Growing up and into young adulthood the epic thank you card chip that mom implanted in my brain still existed. Even after moving out and being on my own where other habits she had taught seemed to fall by the wayside (making my bed, church every Sunday, vegetables in general) I remained pretty fanatical about keeping track of gifts and getting a card out to thank the people within a week or so.
And now I think I'm implanting the chip into my two boys' small heads as well. They have been doing thank you cards since oh I don't know, birth maybe?
Last night as we sat down at the kitchen table together with my carefully penned list of Christmas gifts and a new box of note cards, I had to smile when I reminded my 8-year-old to use his "best handwriting" as I heard my mother's words coming out of my mouth.
In the age of all things electronic where it's so easy to shoot off an e-mail or FaceTime your grandma, the handwritten note seems even more meaningful. Because what comes in the mail nowadays? Bills? Junk mail? Things to tear up and recycle? It's such a treat to get something from an actual person.
It's important to give thanks, in person and on paper. To let the people in our lives know that we are grateful. Not just for the things that they have given to us but for their presence in our lives. For their friendship. For their love and their kindness.
I felt good last night as my younger son excitedly sat down to sign his name on several cards. In going over who had given him what he stated, "We're lucky Mommy; we have all these Aunties who love us. And family too."
That's what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful that they're thankful.
I should probably send my mom a note.