Thursday, December 31, 2015

Writing thank you notes

The old life-lessons for kids:  presents might come with no strings attached, but they always come with the ball-and-chain of attached obligatory thank you notes, to be written under the watchful eye of a stern Miser Mom.  None of this "Dear Sis, thank you for te presnet. Love, bro" drivel; a true Thank You Note shows thought, sincerity, and evidence of mild proofreading.

I tell my kids that a proper thank you note does not even begin with the words "thank you".  I find that starting with those two words really mentally paints the writer into a corner.  The writers are allowed to (and in fact, should) say "thank you" in the last sentence, and for that reason, too, the thankers ought to find a different way to open their letter.  In fact, J-son this year opened each of his letters by describing opening the present he's thanking people for:  "I was excited to open the gift with the head phones in it."
J-son, wearing his present while he writes about it.

I also tell my kids that every thank you note has to have at least three sentences before they get to the final, "thank you" line.  Why did you/would you want this thing?  What will you do with it? A four-sentence thank you note isn't a novel, and it isn't even a minor literary masterpiece, but it is a heck of a lot of work for my sons (especially because my sons have a heck of a lot of relatives, so they have a lot of these four-sentence notes to write).

N-son with his empty canning jar (it had candy in it for about 1.5 hours after he opened it)
and some groovy music helping him write lots of letters.
And, truth to be told, these sentences of explanation are the best part, often even deliberately funny:
  •  "The Hershey bar was so good that I ate it right away."
  • "Also thank you for the soap.  A guy has to smell good for the ladys."  
  • "Now that I got hand wraps for Christmas I don't have to make my parents pay for them" (with an asterisk on "parents" that says, "Miser Mom!!!").  

Not to mention, occasional adorable pictures.
Punching mitts for boxing, a jar of candy (temporarily full), and
a set of headphones on a happy guy.
And now the thank you notes are done, with both record speed and also conscientiousness.  And the boys worked hard and occasionally quite cheerfully on them.  And I didn't have to nag anybody or make anyone start over, for which I'm very grateful.  And the letters are so fun to proofread and look at, that I couldn't help but share the highlights -- which is a perfect present for a parent to get for the holidays.  Thank you, boys!

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