101 Ways to Cope with Losing Elderly Parents #18 ~ Give a Thank You Letter as a Christmas Gift

Letter 3

I wrote a post back on December 17th, 2012 about a Thank You Letter which I gave my father for Christmas  a few years before he died in 2010. It’s one of those posts that I wrote very much from the heart and I was a little surprised that it received so little attention at the time.

However, over the last few weeks, it has been the most read post on the entire blog by a long shot and that has made me think a lot more about whole idea of writing Thank You letters as Christmas gifts for one’s elderly parents.

I was fortunate that, for some reason, I was inspired to write the letter to my father while he was in good health and able to appreciate it.

However, I would say that it is never, ever too late to write that letter of thanks. Losing elderly parents, to me, is a process which can begin years before they actually die and goes on probably forever after they have died.


I know now that my mother would have appreciated such a letter but I never wrote one to her. I’ve been thinking, though, that this year ~ the 6th Christmas without her here ~ that I will take time to write to her and say everything I would have wanted her to read.

Writing a Thank You letter to a parent can’t be a token gesture. If you feel that no thanks is due, then don’t do it. But, I guess that most of us have lots of things for which we can thank our parents.

So, I would urge anyone who is fortunate enough to have an elderly parent still alive and well to give the gift of time, thought and gratitude in a Thank You letter this Christmas. It is probably the present which will be most treasured by both the giver and the recipient. And if your elderly parents have already passed on, there is still time to write and the right time will come to you, as you are the only person who knows exactly how you are feeling about your parent.

Remember, there’s no set formula ~  be yourself and dig deep!

letter 4

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

14 thoughts on “101 Ways to Cope with Losing Elderly Parents #18 ~ Give a Thank You Letter as a Christmas Gift”

  1. This time of the year, I take out all of my Mother’s and Grandmother’s things and use them and decorate with them. This simple act brings them into my life during the holidays and each time I use or see one of the items, I remember those beautiful people who have passed.

  2. It’s too bad that the practice of writing a letter has fallen along side the road. I remember when my Mom was alive the letters she received from my sister whom at the time lived in another state..It was like manna from the gods to see that envelope and my Mom would share certain parts with us. Later on when I was an adult my sister would write to me and I still have every one of her letters on the note paper. I also have letters from our youngest son when he was away in the Navy..I still have to smile when I see how they were address..”To Mom and Dad @………., or my Parents @……. . I will always cherish these letters. I think that it’s a fitting tribute to our parents, children or someone who has made an impression on our lives to say “Thank You”…I enjoyed this post….

    1. Hi Joni, many thanks for writing. I’ve known that bliss on parent’s faces at the arrival of letters from faraway children.
      It’s lovely to be able to read letters that one received over the years. I don’t think emails will ever be quite the same!

  3. Very neat idea Jean. It is especially applicable to those in our generation. Believe it or not, here in Canada there are many school districts that no longer teach cursive writing. They either print or type – no writing. It’s becoming a lost art.

    The time and thought that goes into a well-written letter is an excellent Christmas present in and of itself. Then add to it grace and thankfukness is a wonderful idea.

    Great Post Jean. Thank You.

    1. Hi Paul, I suspect the ‘art of writing’ is dying all over which is a pity. (Having said that, I never enjoyed those hours and hours trying to write in s straight line!).

      I think for the Thamk You letters I’m talking about, the matter of whether they’re written or types is not all that important. It’s the content that’s key.

  4. When my painting teacher was in hospice I went to see her, and after coming home, finally realized what I wanted to say to her but couldn’t at the time. I wrote her a letter then, but even though I emailed it to her daughters it arrived too late. After that I thought: I’m going to sit down and write a letter to all my important people. Of course I haven’t — so thank you — you’ve got me thinking again!

  5. What a lovely idea–not only for elderly parents, but also for elderly friends and relatives. Often it is difficult to know what to buy them, and I think that a letter sometimes might be more appreciated than a gift.

    1. Good morning Sheryl, couldn’t agree more. I think the letter would definitely mean a lot more than a scarf or whatever. I know, after my father died, I found a drawer full of unused presents I had given him over the years, but the letter I wrote him was very well thumbed.

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