A recent conversation with two newlyweds has left me thinking all week about thankfulness. It started with a simple question: “Have you finished your thank-you notes?”
Sounds harmless, right? Well, it immediately became clear that I had placed myself in a generational divide, and I don’t think I came out on the winning side. While the bride said she was continuing to “work on them,” it was the groom’s comment that caught me by surprise:
Wouldn’t it be nice if a person gave a gift and added a second one which said, “You don’t have to write me a card?”
Though thoughts of my mother’s words were haunting me, I took his words to heart.
What’s the big deal about thank-you cards anyway?
As a Christ-follower, I decided to first go to the Good Book — nope, no mandatory cards found there!
I then thought about the cultures in which I’d lived — no, we didn’t write cards in the Middle East. In fact, when you brought a gift to the house, you discreetly placed it on a table, you didn’t announce that you were giving them something, nor did you expect a response. Hmm…was that a good thing or bad?
With a quick online search, I can place blame on the Germans, who brought greeting cards and thank-you notes to my own country around 1856. Though ancient Egyptians did write notes on papyrus, it obviously did not carry over to their modern-day ancestors, from whom this particular groom descended.
So, do Boomers simply give way to Millenials and let them decimate the card industry?
After a deep breath, and a desire for forgiveness from my late mother, I say yes. Card or no card, the attitude of thankfulness is what’s important. What did Paul tell the Philippians in his letter?
I thank my God every time I remember you.
What’s more important? For a newly married couple to send me a card to satisfy my pride or to receive the blessing of them thanking God for me when they use the dishes or towels I bought for them?
Forcing a child to write a thank-you card has about the same affect as when you forced them to tell their sibling they are sorry after a fight.
That said, how do we instill thankfulness in our children and grandchildren?
- Model it ourselves by saying thank you to them or others in their presence.
- Thank God for those he brings to mind when you pray with them.
- Let them see you writing a note, sending a text, or doing a good deed out of thankfulness for another person.
- Be thankful for them through good times and bad.
I love writing notes. I’m sure some of my mother’s gift rubbed off on me, but I am learning to write more in the unexpected times, rather than expected. I am learning to write when the Spirit guides me, not the culture.
I am also learning to text or call in the same way. Not everyone needs a note, but a timely text helps them know they are loved and appreciated right when it’s needed.
May God forgive me for pressing others out of cultural expectations rather than the Law of Love. I think the next time I give a gift, I might just say, “No thank you card needed! Being able to celebrate with you is thanks enough.”
Thank you, for listening, as I work to figure out this life of faith. I’m learning I’m never to old to learn. For that I’m thankful.
Grace and Peace