It was something that my mother made me do every time I received a gift, and I came to loath it: The thank you note.
Over time I came to have a greater appreciation for the handwritten thank you note and I took up this practice much more regularly (although I would like to do more of this).
However, over the past several years I have stopped writing thank you notes at Christmas. I know, this may be the worst idea ever but this is why.
Christmas is a season that declares that there was a gift given by God that you and I did not deserve or earn. And that there is nothing that you and I can do to destroy that gift. This gift of Grace and Love in Christ is something that we call Good News. Christmas is a season that invites us all to be humble enough to receive.
Receiving something as simple as a compliment , is difficult for me because I do one of two things - downplay or deflect. I will downplay the compliment as something that was not a big deal or something someone else could have done much better. Or I will deflect the compliment by turning your comment about me into a compliment about you. I am a black belt compliment deflector.
The downplay and deflect is also a move that gives me the power in the situation. I disarm your words and I end up with the upper hand where I can then turn this away from me and back to you. When I do these moves I retain a position of strength and do not become vulnerable.
Christmas is the one season that I try very hard NOT to write thank you notes for these reasons. I need to practice humility and vulnerability. I need to learn to just accept and receive. I do not need to be the powerful one or the one who always has the last word.
It is uncomfortable to not express thank you beyond a simple two words and a hug. I have been conditioned to believe that that is not a complete thank you but only a prelude. The "real" thank you is not complete until that hand written note comes. Thus giving me the final word, giving me the ability to downplay and deflect, and ensuring that I am never vulnerable.
Being vulnerable is not my favorite thing. It is not something that comes easily to me, nor is it something that I have mastered. What I know is that we all need to be more vulnerable and more humble and more willing to receive.
That is why I do not write thank you cards at Christmas.