#30DaysofGratitude: Letters Worth Noting


The envelopes from my mom's cards are just as fun as the cards themselves!

The seeds of this project have been germinating under grow lights for a while. Back in September I sat down to write a couple of thank you notes. As I dug through my box of spare cards—all the way to the bottom for the thank you cards—I realized it had been at least three years since I'd written a thank you note.


I say thank you, I email thank you, according to TweetStats one of my most tweeted words is "thanks," but you and I both know that nothing compares to receiving the words "thank you" in writing. I've never been diligent with thank you notes. I don't think I sent more than a handful of thank you notes throughout my childhood, I just told my mom I did (sorry Mom, sorry Grandma). I remembered to send them after job interviews, but that served my own self-interest as much as it offered my appreciation.

Have you seen the blog is Letters of Note? The handwritten letters captivate me, as they offer insight into the writer; his mood, his sense of humor, his level of precision. Did the writer have exacting penmanship or was he comfortable sending the letter with cross-outs? I especially adore notes that include little drawings (I've already linked to this letter from father to son, my favorite; see also this letter from father to daughter), perhaps because my mom and my uncle both illustrate their letters to me (and envelopes, as above).

The handwriting of a loved one is special. I have a yellow box that holds nearly every card I've received in the last dozen years, beginning my freshman year of college. A few short years later I lost Shannon, Grandma, and Grandpa all in one awful week. I can't explain it, but I cherish scraps of their handwriting as much—if not more—than photographs.


Shannon always wrote with a green pen, her favorite color.

As the art of letter writing declines, the value of notes and letters increases. While I have no doubt that someday people will coo over an Emails of Note blog, one part of the aesthetic connection is lost when all our written communication is transmitted through 1s and 0s. The artist in me appreciates having something tangible, to feel the weight of the card and the topography of embossed letters, to recognize Shannon's green ink or my mom's illustrations.

Perhaps, like the hastily written thank yous after an interview, this project is just for my own benefit. If so, fine; but I like to imagine that other people appreciate receiving handwritten letters just as much as I do. I'm eager to get started; I can barely wait for Thanksgiving to arrive so I can write the first note!

How about you? Do you keep cards? What about them do you love?