I have vivid memories of my brother throwing tantrums while being forced to sit at the dining room table sometime after Christmas and write thank you notes. And I have just as vivid memories of my mother not caring one little bit how much he didn’t want to write them. Eventually, after all their sweat and tears, the little notes claiming gratitude in that scrawly-boy-handwriting went out and there was a truce until the birthday gifts arrived.
I can understand both sides of the battle. It is important to take the time to express appreciation to others and to teach it to our children. And it can feel like an unpleasant chore to sit down and do it. In spite of that, this afternoon, we sat around the table and made thank you notes. There was something about stickers and stamps that seemed to take the sting out of it for my almost-four-year-old.
I love writing thank you notes – I think I have for my whole life. I love stationary. I love all things monogrammed and personalized. I love hand-crafted cards. I don’t ever recall having a battle over thank you notes…well, not that kind of battle, anyway.
These cards, however, are haphazard and even a little messy. The stickers aren’t centered and none of the colors match and the ink from the stamps is smeared on most of them. These cards challenge every one of my perfectionist/OCD tendencies right down into my bones. I nearly had to restrain myself as I sat at the table watching them be created…restrain myself from controlling helping with the process. I had to talk to myself (in my head) and say things like, “It doesn’t matter what they look like – this is about making it fun to say thank you. His grandparents will be delighted to get whatever we put in those envelopes. Let the four-eyed alien stickers go right onto that pretty card stock and smile about it!” And I did.
Because he thought it was fun. He asked me twice today when it was going to be time to do his thank you cards. And now that they are finished, they do make me smile…even the one with the weird bug robot.