After having been to what what seems like several hundred birthday parties over the past four months (one of them being my own child’s), I’ve been thinking a lot about the dreaded thank you note. As a kid, I remember writing (being forced to write) a thank you note whenever I received a gift. I think it’s a wonderful thing to do. Who doesn’t love giving a gift and then getting a nice note in the mail that expresses gratitude for that gift? It makes you feel appreciated.
Now I’m a Mom and, in theory, I want my kids to learn how to show gratitude and appreciation when they receive gifts. When my son turned one, we had a big party (don’t tell my daughter…. we didn’t have a party for her until she turned three). He was our first child, and we were very excited that we had made it an entire year with all of us still in tact. We invited everyone we knew, so there were quite a few presents. As a new Mom, I wrote every last guest a nice thank you note for their generosity since my son was obviously unable to do so for himself.
Then he turned two. We had another party with fewer people, as the novelty had worn off considerably, and we now had another child (again, who would not have a birthday party of her own for nearly three years). I honestly can’t remember if I sent out any thank you notes for that party, and that is what brings me to the point of this post.
We have had a handful of birthday parties over the past seven years for our kids, and I can’t say with any degree of certainty how many times I’ve written thank you notes. We’ve also been to many, many, many, many birthday parties, and I have no idea how many thank you notes we have received. And I don’t really care.
If you are a Mom that can figure out who gave her kid what in the carnage that remains after the presents have been opened, then you get a prize*. As I sit here writing this, I am staring at a list of my daughter’s friends and the presents I think they each gave her for her birthday party over two months ago, knowing full well that I will never send out a single thank you note for any of them. Just having the list there makes me feel like I’m a good person, though.
Let’s be honest here. When your kids are little, they have no idea when you send out a thank you note on their behalf. Once they are old enough to write semi-coherent sentences, they can do it themselves. Until then, infants and toddlers can neither write thank you notes, nor read them.
Add all of this to the fact that the amount of things parents do for their kids these days just to prepare for a birthday party (I blame you, Pinterest) is way more than than it should be, and that should be thanks enough for their guests.
*There is no prize.