Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Train Up Tuesday: Snail Mail Expressions of Gratitude and Love

It’s an age of all things electronic when it comes to almost all forms of communication - instant messaging, texting, Skyping, Facebook. Good, old fashioned letters and cards seem to fade from thought, yet who doesn’t just love it when a “thank you” or love letter is written in pen or even crayon and delivered unexpectedly? I say “unexpectedly” because it seems so much faster and easier and normal to type/text/Facebook.

I want to give you a few ideas on how to teach your little one the value of these types of notes. First, consider the simple “thank-you” card. After my husband and I were married, I tried to be intentional on getting out thank-you cards to those who bestowed their love in gifts to honor our marriage celebration. I never “seemed to have time” to do them all at once, so I did what I could when I could. I thought I had gotten them all out until MONTHS...and I mean MANY months later, I found probably 30 or so under the seat of my car (oh, did I just say that?! Guess now you know how often I was cleaning out my car, too)! YIKES! I was embarrassed...too embarrassed to give those cards out even at that point! That was a kick in the right direction, however. When my oldest son was born, notes went out a little quicker...but come on, I was a new mommy and hadn’t quite adjusted my time management (still working on that, too by the way). For his first birthday, though, I took extra care and time to have his photo made with a message “from him” thanking people for helping make his day special and handed them out as guests would leave the party or would mail them to the few who mailed birthday wishes to him. It was evidently a hit. I would go to friends’ homes and see that thank you on their refrigerator. Now, I do it each year for both my boys.

Now that my oldest son (whom I’ll refer to as CA) is 3 and loves art (like his momma!), we try to be diligent to send thank-yous to anyone who gives him something or does something that he is grateful for. I’m already seeing appreciation develop in him. He will say “thank you” voluntarily for things to people, which is what we all want in training our children. We don’t want to have to tell our little ones to say thank you; we want to train them to do that themselves without our prompting.

A second idea is simple letters of love to just make someone’s day. For most of our married life, when I haven’t been able to go on a trip with my husband, I send letters with him for each night he’s away. He says it’s the part he most looks forward to during his trips. Before kids, the letters were mushy, gushy, and sometimes a page long. Now, I’m happy to have a 2 sentence coherent thought to write; not that I love him less, but let’s face it, it’s a little difficult it to complete a sentence with little ones around you. I like our letters now, more than ever, because they are sprinkled with crayon markings, stickers, and other sweet surprises. CA helps me with these notes now for “Daddy”. This year, we started something new. A blank book for CA to draw/write in and for me to write in as well. I bought these fabulous, inexpensive blank books here. We are almost through with the first book. My husband has loved his special book! He told me he often runs his hands across the pages to feel the impressions that his boy has made while drawing for him. In a day where Skype is a great tool, it still doesn’t replace the connection that my husband feels by touching what his son has made. CA is earnest about making sure we write in “Daddy’s book”. He’s equally driven to make certain that daddy doesn’t forget to read it each night he’s away. (My husband does his part to return his love as well, but I hope to share that with you in the coming weeks.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I get happy to see my inbox lit up like most of you, but I’ll take the feel of crayon on construction paper ANY day!

So what creative ways do you have for helping your little ones learn the art and appreciation for writing/drawing letters? How do you help teach them the value of expressing gratefulness and love to others? Post links to your favorite ideas, please.


The Barbee Family said...

When Amelia Grace really started to talk, we let her make phone calls to the people she wanted to say "thank you" to. Most of the time we made the call when we would get the answering machine so they would have a "special" voice mail when they got home. I am not sure how many thank you's the grandparents have saved on their machines. Now we do artful thank you's which gives her the opportunity to do use her "creative" side and I ask her what she would like to say to each person and I do the dots and she traces them on the paper. So in our home a thank you note becomes a "gift" in itself. With Levi the first real words he learned were "Amen" and "Thanks" I think it is important to teach our children gratuitude at home and I know that they use it in the real world. Jason has a whole drawer full of pictures that Amelia Grace has colored for him, bt I like the note book idea and will probably start using that, it is an easy way to keep up with all of those special papers.

The Barbee Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donna said...

Good post! I do the letters for my husbands suitcase when he travels, too. The last two trips my husband has gone on, my 4 year old has helped me write them and color pictures. Then we hide them in his suitcase (in his underwear, socks, pants pocket), so he'll find them randomly. She loves doing it!