Every Christmas and birthday that I can remember has followed a similar pattern: wake up, open presents, spend time with family, and have a nice dinner. There have been variations over the years, of course, but one thing has never changed – my mother’s insistence on writing thank you notes. After receiving any sort of present, my mom would immediately compile lists of every gift and who gave them to us. For years, my sister and I would roll our eyes, annoyed. However, after celebrating my 20th birthday and sending out yet another round of notes, I’ve realized that my mom may be onto something.
It seems that many of us have forgotten about the art of writing letters. Why would we take the time to do so when we can simply email, text, or call? It’s faster for us and it reaches our correspondent sooner. Still, I think there’s something to be said about written letters, especially today when they’re so rare. Every so often, I’ll check my mailbox at school and find a holiday card from my parents or a letter from my best friend. Tearing open the envelope and immediately recognizing the familiar handwriting evokes so much more excitement than simply clicking on a new email typed in Times New Roman. Maybe it’s just my tendency to get overexcited, but receiving a written letter is enough to brighten my day.
When I graduated from high school, my parents gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Not a car, not a new phone, not any new jewelry. They gave me a leather-bound book of letters from the most important people in my life – relatives, teachers, and friends – complete with pictures of everyone as well. Some were filled with congratulatory words and advice for college while others described memories that we had shared. My mom’s obsession with thank you notes evolved to a new level of sincerity that has given me a new appreciation for letters.
I’ll admit that I still contact people most through emails and texts, but every so often I’ll pull out some stationary and take the time to show friends and family that I’m thinking of them. Perhaps the next time you sit down to write an email or text a quick “thank you,” you could consider writing it out. It may take an extra five minutes, but it will undoubtedly be appreciated.