At this very moment, Reader, I have exactly 61 unanswered text messages. That does not include what’s left unanswered on Whatsapp, emails, and (shudder) voicemails from my mother. I ignore them. They’re easy to forget – just a small red bubble on a screen. I’m inundated with reminders, alerts, alarms, and appointments all day long.
This is to say, if you have texted me a note of appreciation in the last month, I have not read it. In fact, I probably purposefully ignored it. I find thank-you texts a bit gauche, don’t you agree? And if gauche is too strong a word, then I think lazy might be an appropriate substitute.
Gratitude is a verb, above anything else. It should be treated as an action. To show gratitude, one should put in the effort. Myself, I like a handwritten letter. Preferably on a bright white stock, preferably with letterhead (but one can’t be too picky). There’s a bit of ceremony to opening a letter address to you. It makes me feel important. It makes me feel like the appreciated act was worth it.
A text I may read while brushing my teeth in the morning. A letter I will sit down and savor with my espresso. That is the difference.
If one ever wonders when it is appropriate to write a letter, the answer is simple: always. A text is for your delivery driver, but a letter should be reserved for anything beyond a casual acquaintanceship. This applies doubly for a business relationship. I got my first high-paying job because I dropped a letter off in the CEO’s mail slot while walking out of the building. I secured a very important piece of business this year with the assistance of letterhead and stamps, not through Zoom and Outlook. To show effort is to show loyalty, dedication, and (dare I say?) love. This goes for any relationship one finds oneself in.
It’s also a bit hedonistic to write a letter, isn’t it? A bit of performance, a bit of playacting that sets one’s mind into a space of being a gentleman. I do all of my correspondences at my desk. I light one lamp and my pen casts long shadows over my stationery. I use, of course, a personalized correspondence card. My best writing is after one glass of something strong, when the words flow most easily. One doesn’t slur words when they’re written down, you know.
To me, letters have made the pandemic that much more manageable. It’s the closest we can get to being in-person. I know friends through their penmanship first now. I have kept all the letters I’ve received in a drawer in my desk. I’ll remember this time fondly because of them.
But be warned, my dear Reader, not every letter is a boomerang – many will never come back at all. But that’s okay. As the adage goes: It’s the thought that counts.
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I recently wrote a thank you letter for a kindness received. Although mailed the same day I wondered if the recipient might find me rude for not texting my gratitude immediately. This article has me considering the pleasure of a good pen.