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Thanksgiving – A Dead Tradition?

Last year I watched the morning news and saw a story of an elderly gentleman who would take the time to cover his heating costs. The story discussed how the dramatic increase in heating oil hurt people on a restricted scale and highlighted the personal experience of this widower. A few weeks later I saw a follow-up story stating that this gentleman had received hundreds of small contributions from people who had seen his story and wanted to help. While I was touched by the amount of support he received, I was even more impressed by the sense of tradition this man possessed. He spent a few hours each day writing a personal note “Thank you” to everyone who sent him money. It didn’t matter if they were given $ 5 or $ 50. This gentleman was in his 80s, his vision was poor and his writing was slow. So because you did it the reporter asked, “because it’s just the way I’ve been resurrected and that’s what I’ve always done” comes the answer.

So when was the last time you received a thank you note? Have you noticed that for every gift you send you receive less and less notes in return? With children not being taught the etiquette of sending a thank-you note, it could be that this is a dead tradition.

When I was young there was one thing I couldn’t get away from and that didn’t fulfill my thank you notes. After a birthday or Christmas I always had my thank you notes completed in a couple of weeks. And I couldn’t hold anything together, it should be a sincere thank you that really showed my appreciation for the gift I received. So while we teach our children the act of sending a note, there is also a certain format that a thank you note should follow.

  • Indicate the gift that the person gave you
  • Write a positive sentence or two about why you like the gift, or how you intend to use it
  • Offer some additional personal information or a story to make the note a truly personalized note

An example of Dos and Don’ts:

You receive a $ 25 check from your aunt.

Don’t write a thank you line that simply says “Thank you so much for checking $ 25. Love, Kristen”

Write a few lines similar to, “Thank you so much for the generous gift you sent me for my birthday. I’m thinking of putting the money into a cardigan pullover that I saw at Ann Taylor. I hope you and Uncle Bill had a great trip.” in Virginia. Love, Kristen “

Obviously this is just an example and your own note will hopefully get even deeper, but it’s a good starting point and if children can just extend the time by writing these few sentences; most people will always be happy to receive the note.

If we all take a moment to write our own thank you notes and teach our children to do the same; perhaps this expression of appreciation would have a chance of surviving and would not be in danger of going away from the dinosaurs and becoming extinct.