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To Thank or Not to Thank…That is the Question

Mary shaking her gift from Santa. I don't know where she picked this up... photo by Diskdaddy.comPin
Mary shaking her gift from Santa. I don’t know where she picked this up…
photo by Diskdaddy.com

My daughter has the fortune (or misfortune depending on perspective) of having her birthday about a week before Christmas. So, she more or less spends the month of December opening birthday and/or Christmas gifts from well-meaning relatives and friends.

However, that puts this busy mom in a dilemma. Do I write a thank you card for each gift she receives? Or can one thank you card to a generous person who gave her both Birthday and Christmas gifts suffice? While I am teaching my daughter about showing gratitude, do we write a thank you card to Santa too???

In the age of texting and Facebook status updates, do people even care to receive handwritten thank you cards in the mail anymore? I, for example, am a bit hurt if I don’t receive a thank you card for something more formal, such as an expensive gift for a bridal or baby shower, but thank you cards for gifts given at a child’s large birthday party seem rare, and I don’t really question not receiving one.

Where does the line get drawn? Do I continue doing all of Mary’s thank you cards until she can write her own? I would hope that while she’s growing up, I’d be able to instill some of these old fashioned values in her, because I’ve been in situations where a young person is “forced” to write a thank you card to me – and those aren’t as nice to receive.

While we’re on the topic of what is an appropriate way to note gratitude for the thoughtfulness of others. I have another question…

How can I delicately tell friends and relatives (some who give her gifts throughout the year for no specific occasion) that Mary doesn’t need anything and we’d rather they save their money for themselves? After Christmas, my husband made the comment that our house wasn’t “big enough” for all the stuff in it. That didn’t sit well with me. So, I just spent three days clearing Mary’s playroom and our basement storage room to organize what should be saved, passed on, donated to charity or sold. This resulted in our house looking like it was picked up and turned over for those three days while I moved things around– but we’re back to normal now.

As you all know, my husband and I are still undecided on when (or if) to have a second child (I wrote about it here: https://ottawamommyclub.ca/almost-2-years-now/), so we only kept a small amount of baby clothes and equipment. But overall, I feel better that our house doesn’t seem to be bursting at the seams with Mary’s clothes and toys.

Now that the major project is complete and I found several packs of thank you cards in my basement storage room. I better get going, as I have a few cards to write to loved ones…

I Tell Stories
I Tell Storieshttp://samanthaball.ca/
Samantha lives in Stittsville with her husband, Jon, and their daughter, Mary. Samantha works full-time for the federal government and also enjoys writing part-time, including as a writer for Ottawa Parenting Times Magazine. Feel free to check out her website – samanthaball.ca and follow her on Twitter @I_Tell_Stories

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  1. Good for you for continuing to write thank you notes! We are guilty of letting that slide a fair bit. It is not that we are not appreciative (we really are!) it is more about convenience, sadly. Most people I do think expect thank you notes anymore. I sincere thanks upon receipt of the gift or an email after is much more the norm these days. I mourn a little that the art of letter writing has decline, but such is the way. My girls do write letters and make art for the great grandparents as this was the way of their generation.

  2. I had Big Bro help me with Thank-You cards. I did the writing and he put stickers all over it, stamped it, and put it in the mailbox. As a kid, I always wrote thank-you notes. I’m hoping the way the recipients rave over their card while he’s 2.5 will show him how much it matters and help keep the momentum going for future years!

  3. Hi Brenda,

    Thanks for the reply…I am also worried about the art of letter writing declining. I’ve heard that cursive writing isn’t even taught in school anymore??? Maybe someone can correct me if I am wrong.

    Janet – that’s a great idea. I do try to involve Mary in the process now, but it will be good for her to also get in the habit of helping a younger sister or brother when that time comes.

  4. Thank you notes are awesome and warm, especially if they are handwritten and not just typed.

    They are one of the things e-mail took sadly away, I guess, though after reading this I think I will retake sending them.

  5. This year we requested no gifts for the kids. If they really felt it was necessary to purchase something a piece of clothing would be fine. Almost everyone respected the ‘no more “stuff” please’ request.

  6. Nolie – I think the fact that you thank in person or via phone is great. A phone call! That’s also on the way out in favour of texting nowadays, so it makes it extra special that you call folks.

    George – great to hear you were inspired to think about sending them again. 🙂

    Jan – as Mary grows, I think it will be plain necessary to insist on this. Great idea!

  7. I have known friends to let me know that their children do not need anything and that they would prefer us to make a donation to an organization in lieu of gifts. I appreciate the heads up and love the idea.


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