Thank You Notes

Last Thanksgiving we started a tradition that I hope sticks. We gave each member in our family a thank-you note. And because my kids were small, we “delivered” them under  everyone’s pillow. (I hope that part continues for a long time!)

This came about because I actually really wanted a thank-you note from my kids. Since I’m always the one who sits down with them and lovingly tries to coax (read: force) them to “write” thank-you notes to their grandparents and aunts and uncles and teachers and friends and anyone else who gives them a gift, I thought it would be nice to get one myself. I know I could get them to write one to me, but it just seems weird to dictate a thank-you note for yourself.

But I do want them to thank me.

I should admit that I’m a bit of a thank-you nut. When my kids were little I’d chime in for them, “Thank you, Mommy!” when I gave them their sippy cups, and now I must nudge them with “What do you say?” about a hundred times a day.

It’s not just because I want it for myself, although it does feel good to be recognized. It’s because I know how good it feels to be filled with gratitude.

My first real experience with thank-you notes came when I got married. Sure, I had sent a few here and there before that, but I had never really caught the spirit of gratitude that inspires a heartfelt thank you note. My wedding was the first time I was truly overwhelmed with gratitude. So many people, many whom I barely knew, were so kind to us.

But now as I look back, I’m embarrassed to say that although I wrote very nice thank-you notes to distant relatives and friends who generously showered us with gifts, I did not write a note to my own parents.

Why is that? Why is it so easy to look past the members of our immediate family when we count our blessings? Perhaps we think they are just “doing their job” when they do nice things for us or that our smile is enough of a thank-you. Perhaps we think  something has to be spectacular to warrant our gratitude.

It’s true, we don’t do anything spectacular in our family for Thanksgiving. But we do, at least once a year, sit down and think, concretely and specifically, about the way we bless each other’s lives. I want that warm fuzzy “I am so lucky to be in this family!” feeling to be as much a part of our Thanksgiving as the pumpkin pie. I know it’s twice as delicious. (And that’s saying something because I make a really good pumpkin pie. Seriously. Email me for the recipe.)

Question: Do you sometimes forget to share your gratitude with your immediate family for all that they are and do?
Challenge: Take a quiet hour one evening this week, and write a thank-you note to one or all of the members of your family. If you want, you could even surprise them with a special delivery under their pillow!

Photo by Sandy/ian at

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