I come from a family of “thankers”. Thank you notes are stressed early on and expected. When my children were little, I would ask them what they liked about a gift. They would them tell me and scribble their thanks. I’d then print the ‘translation’ at the bottom and help them write their names. By early elementary school, they were able to write, with help, “Thank you for the [gift[l I like it.” The next step was to say what you liked about it. By the time they’re in the double digits in age, each was able to write a wonderful thank you note. Santa has always included thank you note cards in their stockings.
I was raised to write the notes, too. Perhaps because our military family was often far from family and friends and there were no ‘face to face’ opportunities. Whatever the reason, I think the process of writing the notes makes the writer consider the gift and the giver through the prism of gratitude. And, a mostly giver these days, each thank you note is read and appreciated. We aren’t just going through the motions, By the way, while they didn’t do it when they lived at home, my children send us thank you notes, and we them.
To me, writing thank you notes is part manners (if someone takes the time to pick out a gift for me, I want them to know I’ve received it) and part gratitude (no only received but loved). Is email acceptable? I think that, yes, it is. There is no cut for the USPS required for this. In fact, those of us who had already written our thank you notes at a post-Christmas gathering handed out our thank you notes like kids giving out Valentines.
There are the gifts that are challenges, the ones the kids received when little that were not age-appropriate (much too young, often). Those thank you notes stress the thoughtfulness of the giver more than the gift). Cash is tricky. You aren’t really supposed to say money, so that would go, “Thank you for the generous gift; it’ll come in so handy for[whatever]. But my favorite thank you notes are the ones my children write every year to an elderly relative. She can’t afford to buy gifts. I manage her money and know this. So she and I decide each year what modest gift to give them. The gifts are not actually purchased. I turn around and tell the kids what she “picked” for them and they write heartfelt thank you notes which mean the world to her. We do this at Christmas and birthdays every year. You see, there’s still a gift. Her love for them dictates what she wants for them. As the commercial says, “…..priceless”.