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The Power of the Written Word

When I was a child, my mother made us write thank you notes for pretty much everything: graduations, communions, birthdays, etc. She would buy a packet of thank you notes and we would be required to thank people for their generosity. Not only did we write the cards ourselves, we addressed the envelopes. So at an early age, we knew how to address an envelope. (That will be another column: stuff kids don’t know. Not school’s fault, parent’s fault!) When I became a mother, I also required my children to write thank you notes, even after they moved out of my home! My daughter had a housewarming party last year, and I ordered her personalized thank you cards. I hope she sent them out!

It has become such a habit of mine that even when my high school students give me Christmas presents, I send thank you cards to their homes. One young lady told me that my thank you note, “Made her vacation.” She also said she will keep it forever as it meant a lot to her.

Besides thank you notes, little cards can make a difference. When my children were small and my fabulous grandmother was still alive, she combed the malls of the west coast of Florida looking for cards for EVERY holiday. My children received: “Happy _____Day to my great granddaughter.” Onc in a while, she would have to handwrite in the “great” as sometimes she could not find a St. Patrick’s Day card with that title. She also added a small amount of money in the card and before the children could read they would know what I was giving them when they saw my grandmother’s beautiful penmanship. They would squeal with delight and exclaim, “Gee-Gee sent us a card!”

One of my cousins posted a picture on Instagram of a thank you card my mother had sent her mother. My Aunt Katie saved it and almost fifty years later it was still around. I have to tell you, just seeing my mother’s beautiful handwriting placed a smile on my face.

As a teacher, cards and letters are so special. I can remember being so upset that after Sandy I lost a handwritten loose leaf note from a student thanking me for being tough on him. Sometimes, I re-read those letters to get me though a tough week or to remind me that I am actually making a difference. One student who writes me a Christmas card every year, and I do not even teach him anymore, told me to tell Mr. Hanning to be good to me.

The written word is so powerful that even a World War II veteran asked for cards from people he does not even know for Valentine’s Day. My students made cards for extra credit and their sentiments to the veteran who survived Iwo Jima were quite beautiful. I was super proud of them.

Currently, I have a cousin who is deployed in the Middle East. On my list of things to do is to send her a card. I am sure just a kind word will provide a little comfort while she is serving our country.

So, for Valentine’s Day this year, send a card to someone and write a kind sentiment to them.

Have a great week everyone.

By Beth Hanning

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