It's a happy dilemma this time (so stop rolling your eyes).
Last night was the Christmas recital for my five piano students. They did great and their families were so impressed with their progress since last year. I was showered with praise and also (yay!) with presents.
In previous years, the families of my students have usually given me Christmas cards with some sort of treat inside (like a gift card). The message inside is "Thank you for all your hard work. We appreciate you. Have a Merry Christmas." I've always felt like these were thank you gifts, rather than Christmas gifts. I felt a little silly trying to write a thank you card for a gift that essentially was a thank you gift. So, I would verbally express my appreciation and leave it at that.
This year, I received similar cards from a couple of the families. But in addition, one family also gave me a wrapped present. Okay, I opened it last night when I got home (even though it was a Christmas present. Don't judge me! You would have done the same!) It turned out to be a whole bunch of really cute baby clothes and a soft soft blanket.
Clearly, a thank you note is in order for the baby stuff. It's obviously beyond the scope of thank-you-for-being-a-great-teacher. So, I should send my thank you card to them along with my regular batch of Christmas thank yous, yes?
I also have a new family this year and I'm teaching both of their boys. At the end of the night, each of the boys gave me a present. These were Christmas presents (not that that stopped me from tearing them open as soon as I got home) as opposed to thank you gifts. I feel like I should send thank you notes for them as well.
So, here's the dilemma(s):
1) Two of the three families gave me Christmas gifts. If I send thank yous only to them, I feel like I'm leaving out the one family who still gave me a lovely card and a gift certificate. But I feel stupid writing a thank you card for a thank you gift. It might set off a parastoltic chain reaction of "Thank you for your thank you for your thank you for your thank you..." Should I acknowledge all the gifts in writing, regardless of their intent?
2) Should I address the thank you notes to the family or to the students? The presents from the two brothers were clearly marked "Merry Christmas, from Connor" and "Merry Christmas, from Cooper." But it is obvious that the boys had no part in selecting, purchasing, or wrapping the gifts. Do I write individual thank you notes to each of them, to set a good example? Or should I send one note to the family as a whole?
3) There is one more piano lesson before Christmas. Should I try to get something for each of the students? Should I get something for each family? It feels weird to have received this huge haul of presents, especially when you consider they are already paying me for me services.
Please note: I'm not trying to get out of writing thank you notes. I love to get thank yous in the mail and I have no problem sending them to others. I just want to do it appropriately.