There’s a stationery shop in my town with a banner out front that reads:

 

StationeryQuoteI smile every time I pass there because, well, my mama did raise me right. Of course, a mild paper addiction has fed the process, but stationery is just one of my many paper weaknesses.

This past Wednesday I had written two thank you notes. My toddler was whining at the door like a puppy, asking to go outside despite the frigid temps and awful wind. So, in an effort to paint a picture of why we weren’t playing outside, I bundled him up and took him on a walk to the mailbox. Being a fun mom, I let him hold one of my letters. The one in the white envelope.

Big mistake.

His tiny hands lost their grip on the envelope just as we were placing it in the box, floating it across the street into a snowy field. There it began bouncing across the snow corner by corner. Pushing the hair out of my eyes, we ran across the street only to discover there was no possible way to find that—did I mention?—white envelope.

Thankfully, or perhaps sadly, it was a card for my parents. I shot them a quick text, telling them about the beautiful card I had written them that was floating off into Neverland. My one consolation is that I wrote in a Sharpie pen. Neighbors have been known to deliver mail that has escaped our mailbox before.

What really made me sad about this whole incident is that I was so excited to be sending cards. These days, it’s normal to give a verbal thank you, or perhaps to text or email one, while cards aren’t quite so common. But think about the last time you received a card or letter in the mail from a person. Not an institution, or your dentist or doctor—something from a friend or family member.

While I love gifts of all shapes and sizes, the best thing anyone can give me on a birthday or special occasion is a personal card. Back in my teens and early twenties, it seemed like I was always sending notes to others. Do you remember back in the dark ages when you had to use a stamp or make a call to hear from someone far away? I’m all about digital communication, but those were the days. I have boxes filled with handwritten communication from dear friends, and I treasure these collections.

My new challenge to myself is to write five notes of gratitude each week. They might not necessarily be thanking someone for an act or gift; perhaps it’s just to tell them why they mean so much to me. Whatever the message, I will put pen to paper and stamp to envelope, keep the US Postal Service in business, and brighten someone’s day.

Whose day will you try to brighten?

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