The magic of a hand-written note
I don’t know about you but when I open my mailbox, it’s usually not very exciting. There are almost always coupons, maybe a magazine and possibly a few miscellaneous bills. I can often walk directly from the mailbox to the recycling bin and come inside empty handed.
But everyone once in a while, there’s an envelope with a hand-written address that brings a smile to my face. It might be a thank you note or a birthday card but no matter what, it’s special. It’s meaningful because someone took the time to buy a card, hand-write a note, write my address, stamp the envelope and then send it to me through the postal service. In this world of texting and instagramming, that’s a lot of work. It’s a missive of love and means so much.
I have a friend who probably writes a thank you note a day. He’s an administrator at a local K-8 school and he is constantly thanking people for all the ways they give back. His notes are so thoughtful and kind; he doesn’t just scribble out a message so he can cross it off his to-do list. He handwrites each one with care and attention and you can tell there’s thought and meaning to every word he writes.
I read a book years ago called “365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life” by John Kralik (the book is now titled “A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life.”) Kralik had hit a low in his life and was inspired by a beautiful, simple thank you note he received from a friend. He decided that writing thank you notes might be a way for him to feel grateful. As you can imagine, with each thank you note came goodness and his life was transformed.
We don’t have to follow Kralik’s example of a year of thank you notes, but everyone can do something simple.
In fact, the other day an envelope appeared on the windshield of our car complete with a piece of paper filled with the most adorable kid art — bright colors, dinosaur stickers and happy scribbles. A neighbor who we haven’t met yet took the time to write a note to our family.
You see, we have a beautiful big tree in front of our house between the sidewalk and street. A few years ago, we decided to paint some rocks and put them underneath the tree with a sign inviting people to take one. It’s a fun family activity for us and it feels good to brighten up our little corner of the neighborhood, especially during Shelter In Place. The rocks disappear rather quickly and we often spy a grandparent picking one out with their grandchildren, or a couple scooping one up that makes them smile.
Well, it turns out our neighbor and her 18-month-old daughter make a point of coming by our house to check out the rocks too. So, when we opened up the bright turquoise envelope they left on our car, there was a colorful card and a hand-written note that included, “Your kindness and generosity makes this whole SIP situation a lot more joyful! We take walks everyday and we always look forward to seeing what new treasures have popped up in front of your house. My daughter is especially fond of the Elmo rock and if she could, she would sleep with it every night.”
We were so touched that someone took the time to write a note thanking us. We’ve put dozens of rocks out over the years and haven’t thought too much about what happens to them, but this sweet note reminded us that these hand-painted rocks put happiness into our neighborhood. There’s not much better than that (well, maybe a hand-written note is just as good).