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John Lamb, Published December 24 2013

Lamb: With gifts, and thank-you notes, it’s the thought that counts

Merry Christmas! You made it to the finish line, and if you can keep upright throughout the day, you will have almost survived another holiday season.

But now comes the tough part.

The holidays are a time when family and friends show their love for you with presents. We’re fortunate that someone cares so much. It really is the thought that counts, but sometimes, you have to wonder what the holly some people were thinking.

Even if the meaning of the gift is lost on you, always let the giver know that their thought was appreciated. Writing thank-you notes may seem old-fashioned, but it’s a great way to acknowledge the efforts of loved ones, and to sneak away for some quiet time on Christmas Day.

Truth be told, I’ve been really bad at this over the past few years, dating back to my high school graduation in 1989.

It’s easy to write notes for the gifts that thrill, but the others take a little more thought. Here are some suggestions.

• For that friend that recently converted to the cult of running and is trying to get you to join.


Thanks for the subscription to Runner’s World. It will give me something to read when you start yammering on about what a tough run you had that day. I hope you enjoy the subscription I got you to TV Guide.

• To your cousin who didn’t have the foresight to consider that what he thought was a hilarious gag gift may re-ignite a long-standing family fued stretching back to “The War of Northern Aggression.”


Thanks for the “Duck Dynasty” welcome mat. I know it was given to me, but it really revealed a lot about the whole family. Who knew Aunt Dee had such a ferocious left hook. Now we all know.

P.S. – So, was your dad able to find a dentist on Christmas Day?

• To your uncle who always gives you the extreme winter survival kit, the one with the knife with the compass in the re-enforced hilt that can crack a bear’s skull.


Thanks for the gift. Now nothing will keep us from you!

(For added effect, write this in blood.)

• To the co-worker you only see in the elevator but made the mistake of once smiling at, even though you don’t know what department he works in.

Hey … you,

Thanks for the fruitcake. I’m surprised you guys up there have time to bake since you’re always doing things with people to make things better. Keep up the good work with that thing you do.

For your imaginary, MacArthur Genius Grant-winning supermodel diplomat girlfriend who surprised you with a return from her peace summit fashion shoot in Bikinistan.


Thanks so much for the Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook. I never knew how badly I wanted to start eating in a more health- and socially conscious way. Mmmm, free-trade, organic kale chips! And how nice it was for you to wake me up by reminding me I need to be more active. Actually, I just gave myself a gift subscription to Runner’s World, so we can both do the Fargo Marathon in four months. I love you so much it hurts.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533