The Lost Art Of Writing; Thank You, Birthday, And Appreciation Notes

Posted: December 18, 2007 in Daily Blog
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My wife and I had an interesting conversation with one of my niece’s this weekend.  She is student teaching in Aurora Colorado, and started yesterday.  The conversation was centered around handwriting and kids.  Our kids have terrible handwriting and it is coming to a head at the school they attend right now.  But as we talked and thought about it I realized that in Texas all their papers and assignments were done on the computer.  They rarely had to write anything.  This seemed to affect our younger two kids the most; they are struggling in their classes right now, as they have to turn everything in written in cursive and legibly!  That leads to a lot of complaining and grumbling in our home when homework is attempted.  But it is an interesting thought as our culture moves forward – will people ever write again?

This recent discussion combined with an email I got from a leader in the religious community I am affiliated with got me thinking.  His email was directed at church leaders suggesting they write notes and appreciate the people that volunteer in the church.  (A great idea I might add.)  I almost “replied all” to his mass email to share my personal perspective on the issue… (I didn’t, but instead I will blog about it.)

When we were in Texas, I was in charge of the entire Children’s Department.  There were 600-700 kids and about 200+ volunteers.  I was challenged to try to build relationships with people there to bolster my leadership, but with that many people it was really hard to do!  So I decided that I would write birthday cards to every one of the volunteers on their birthday, celebrating them and their service in the department.  There were times I really regretted the decision, (it would take hours to write them all every month! And I am a horrible writer too, my kids get it honestly!)  but here is what happened…  I had more people come up to me thanking me for their cards!  It was amazing! 

One couple in particular I remember specifically because the story was so powerful.  We had check in kiosks in the lobby there.  The parents would come up to a kiosk and the volunteer would check them in electronically, printing out name badges and security receipts.  It was a simple job, and the kiosk worker would only have to be there about 20 minutes before church started, then they could slip in to the service.  This one couple was very quiet, hardly saying anything to anyone, but they would show up and do this job without fail.  They had smiles on their faces and were good workers, but they always seemed out of place at this church.  I sent him a birthday card on his birthday – but I have to confess, I didn’t know who he was by name, and couldn’t have told you that I had sent him a card.  (again, it was a big church, and I am bad with names…)  The next week his wife came up to me thanking me for the birthday card for her husband.  It was the ONLY birthday card he received, she told me with a tear in her eye.  I was stunned.  I barely new this guy – only enough to say good morning to and smile at… and here the only card he got was from me, nearly a stranger.  It made a huge difference to him and his wife… One I will probably not ever know the depth of.

You think maybe, just maybe, we should restore the lost art of writing?  Would an email have sufficed in this man’s life?  Do you have letters and notes from someone sent long ago that you keep because of the attachment the letter or note created with the writer?  There is something intimate and emotional about handwritten notes.  Phone calls, emails and text messages fall way short of the time, care and physical attributes of a well chosen card, with carefully crafted words.  Wouldn’t you love to have this kind of impact in a friend or mentor’s life – or better yet, someone you barely know!  Imagine their supprise and appreciation if you sent a note to a school teacher for the impact they have in your kids’ lives… or the person you saw do something really nice for somone else – you could be a secret admirer and not even sign it!!! It would have the same impact.

Send a note this Christmas; buy some nice stationary and appreciate someone.  Thank someone for all they have done for you.  It will make their day, I promise!

  1. i think we should all handwrite more. type writing takes so much of the personality out of what has been written and in many cases some of the relationship is gone, too. i adore getting emails, but love even more to get something handwritten in the mail – the extra effort is priceless.

    and i would never handwrite something and purposely leave out capital letters.

  2. wineymomma says:

    Thanks Graham! We have had the same grumblings at our house since K-garten about handwriting but every now and then I hear bragging about cursive being no problem because that is how she has always written. I love getting something handwritten and vowed never to live and die by e-com. Yesterday is a perfect example of how dependent I have become!

  3. Graham
    As evidenced in your story, a handwritten note is a powerful way to connect individually, making that person feel valued.

    Building on the power of connection using handwritten notes, I developed a system to make it easy to write notes on a regular basis — so instead of an hour at a time, you can spend a few minutes a days to stay in touch. Building relationships with the important people that support your business (or your ministry) is key to success. And, I believe, that God uses each of us to show His love to others and that building relationships are why we are here.

    Check out our Note-Working Success System at

    We also have scripture note cards in our on-line store at

    Thanks for your blog article!

  4. Graham says:

    Note writing is important, we must do it more in leadership, so if you need commercial help with it see the above comment and link… if you are not managing many people you dont need a system, just a pen and a card.

    Young People!! Take note (a little play on words) If you recieve help on something from someone, writing a note to them thanking them or appriciating them will make a HUGE DIFFERENCE in how they percieve you! This is one area that you could make monumental strides forward in by spending 15 minutes to do it… (Just make sure that grammer and spelling is correct – you dont want them to get the wrong impression of you!)

  5. Randy says:

    I have to thank my wife because she keeps the “Thank you” art of writing alive and has passed that on to my children and myself.

    I have been a bit discouraged with our young people as they don’t know what this art is. I sent out graduation and wedding gifts to at least four people (couples) in the last 6 months and never received one reply. I know it is all about the giving but a simple acknowledgment would have been thoughtful.

    When I was dismissed from my church, I received about 7 notes of encouragement and that was out of approximately 200 families. I made sure I replied with Thank you cards.

    Thanks for the reminder of this “Lost Art”.

  6. thanks alot and happy that i came across your site very much encouraging keep up good work

  7. Someone says:

    Thank you for the article! Your blog inspired me and I will hand-write all the holiday notes this time. 🙂

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