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Angela's Answers: The Importance of Thank You



photograph by William Taufic

This time of year especially, I think about how I want my girls to grow up with a strong sense of gratitude. I want them to think about, for instance, when Grandma gives them a present, how she went to the store, thought about them, chose something special and personal, wrapped it up and looked forward to giving it to them. I want my girls to always say thank you, and mean it.

The understanding of the joy of giving in addition to receiving goes a long way in forming empathetic children. So, inspired by Oprah’s Gratitude Journal, we adopted a kid-friendly version that has become a Thanksgiving tradition. We make “Thank You Trees” as centerpieces for Thanksgiving Dinner. We buy mini spruce trees for each of our family members. My girls then write simple thank you notes for everyone. Some have pictures, some have glitter, but they all have heart. Some of the notes have been, “To Grandpa: Thank you for hugging me” or “To Grandma: Thank you for making my favorite corn souffle just because you remembered I like it.” They roll up the notes into paper scrolls and attach them to a branch of the tree with a twist tie. Voilà, a Thank You Tree!

After Thanksgiving dinner we take turns reading the notes. Honestly, there isn’t a dry eye in the house.

Mother of two, Angela Santomero is the creator, writer and producer of children’s uber-hits Blue’s Clues and Super Why! Every month Angela offers her advice and observations on being a mom and an executive in children’s television, while balancing and learning from both worlds.  

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