The (Hand)written Word

I have vivid memories of sitting at the dining room table of my parents’ house, note cards and address book spread before me, squirming and complaining to my mother, “I don’t know what to write!” The scene unfolded annually in the week following Christmas and my birthday, which are lumped together in a way that makes people fret that I must have gotten gypped in the gift department. I didn’t, though, which only made the task at hand more arduous: crafting handwritten thank you notes for all of the presents I had received.

“Write about what they gave you and why you like it,” my mother would say. “Don’t write ‘thanks for the present’ – name what it is and describe why it’s great so they know that you remember and mean what you say.” It felt never-ending, this chore, but I knew there was no way around it. Mom instilled it in me from the start: nothing beats a hand-written note.

Of course, I’m infinitely grateful to her now for cultivating the habit in me and for giving me the tools to write a meaningful message. Every gift and job interview that has come my way since the time I could write has been acknowledged with a written note. Whether it has at all impacted my career opportunities is unclear; I do it not for the potential benefit but because my mother taught me that it’s right thing to do. It no longer feels like penance but a way to express sincere gratitude.

Today a headline and blurb caught my eye and I followed it to a great article advising people on how to share their thoughts and feelings with loved ones facing the end of life (send a note!) and how to make it meaningful (make it handwritten!). I couldn’t agree more. I recently received a handwritten note from a friend at a time I was feeling particularly down, and I can’t express how much warmth and love flooded over me as I read it. It’s tucked away with some keepsakes now. To her it might have felt like a brief scribble but for me, it was far too kind and heartwarming to let go.

It can be hard to find the right words, especially in particularly emotional circumstances. But I truly believe that when you’re thinking of someone, you should tell them, and that the personalization that comes with sending your own thoughts written in your own hand is something that can no amount of technological advances or electronic convenience can ever replace.

Read the article here:


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