Kids and Christmas Thank Yous


My mother had a strict rule about opening gifts on Christmas morning: No random ripping allowed.

Instead, each child opened one gift at a time while the rest of the siblings looked on, and my mom dutifully jotted down the name of the gift giver and the contents of the box. Then, as soon as the last present was unwrapped, my mother would distribute the lists and my brothers and I were given three days to complete handwritten thank-you notes to our generous benefactors.

That was more than 20 years ago.

Apparently, times have changed. At least in most families. Not so much
in ours.

Whereas I am not quite as stringent as my mom when it comes to writing Christmas thank-you cards, I still require my 7-year-old to pen notes of gratitude and place them in the mail by New Year’s Day.

We’re a dying breed, according to a new survey.

A recent TODAY Moms and online poll shows that most parents do not mandate that their children write thank-you cards to gift givers. The online survey found that just 30 percent of moms always require their children to send a note, while 41 percent sometimes make their kids write a thank-you card. The remainder of the parents surveyed never require that their kids express gratitude in a handwritten note.

What would Miss Manners say?

I have no clue, but I know what my mom told me and my brothers: “Don’t expect people to continue to be so generous if you don’t bother taking the time to say ‘thank you.’”

Bottom line: Kids need to know that they are not entitled to material goods at Christmas, or any time of the year.

Having my child take time out of her day to sit down and write thank-you cards for the mountain of gifts she gets from family members and friends is a way to keep her humble. In my opinion, most of her generation lacks humility and can benefit from the simple exercise.

What’s more, over the years I’ve learned not to ever underestimate how much a short note of appreciation means to loved ones who have spent time, money and energy shopping for Christmas gifts.

By the way, according to the poll, parents who are under the age of 30 are “almost twice as likely to let their kids skip thank-you notes than moms over 45.”

So, I guess this post shows just how old I really am.

Then again, it also proves that with age comes wisdom… or at least proper etiquette.

Do you mandate that your children write thank-you notes?

Related Articles:

Share a Seasonal Smile

The Santa Threat

Christmas Showdown: Parents vs. Toy Packaging

Parents and Christmas Firsts

Santa vs. Generous Grandparents

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.