What is it about handwritten notes?

It’s been two weeks since I got married and I still haven’t sent out thank you notes.

In my defense, I just got the custom-made cards in the mail. But to be honest, I’m intimidated by the work.

I have to write more than 100 thank-you notes, all with personal messages and maybe a smiley face. And I have to get them done fast.

A friend of mine told me to get the cards printed with a message, something generic that could apply to everyone. I thought that was a good idea — but I couldn’t let that be the only writing in the card. It’d have to be personal — and it’d have to be handwritten.

There’s something about the handwritten note that makes a thank-you card seem that much more meaningful. Even in today’s tweet-me lifestyle, we still see the value in handwritten cards and letters, forgiving even the worst penmanship. (And, thanks to e-mail and Word, our penmanship is going the way of rotary phones.)

I’ve received dozens of cards and letters over the years, particularly with my involvement with the Cherry Blossom Festival. And while I can’t keep every single notecard, it still means a lot to me that people remember to say thanks. And in their own handwriting.

Sometimes I think I’m old-fashioned in feeling this way, that someone took the time to handwrite “thank you” on a card, seal it (with her own saliva, no less), and maybe even secure a Forever stamp on it and drop it in the mail. It means something. It means I was important enough for the effort.

Anyone else feel the same way? Or am I hanging around the Old Guys too much…?

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11 Responses to “What is it about handwritten notes?”

  1. J July 10, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    I still write letters and thank you notes and send baked goods via USPS. When I receive a generic thank you card the pake part of me thinks that the sender should have saved money and not bothered. Only takes a couple of minutes to add something to the printed message…

  2. M July 11, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Hello Cat!
    Hand written notes or thank yous are more personal and you took the time to write it.

  3. eddyo July 11, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    Good Morning & Congratulations Cat!

    Just seen your wedding pics. What a couple, positively glowing!
    Aren’t you glad your wedding reflected your personalities?

    Regarding today’s topic, have you ever held an e-mail in your hand or seen on a visceral level the subtle handwriting message language in a tweet?

    I am an old guy, but some connections are universal & timeless. Sure it costs postage & most handwritten notes and letters aren’t as clear as computer generated, but I still have many letters & cards from family and friends that still makes me smile.

    btw, silly question, but with all the travelling you & Derek have done already, is there a honeymoon on the horizon (sorry, nosy–eh!)?

  4. tutu July 11, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    I’m so glad someone feels something personal is important. I doubt I’ve gotten one in the last 10-15 years! And while I don’t think the generic thank you is at all meaningful or appropriate, it’s better than nothing, which is too often the case!

    • Masako July 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

      My mother in law often complains that her other grandkid’s don’t acknowledge when she sends them gifts. I told her she should stop sending them stuff.

  5. rayboyjr July 11, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    Hey Cat … there’s a world of difference in a handwritten note … a pre-printed message is like someone saying “thank you”, which is fine … but the handwritten note is like a “thank you” and a nice hug on top of that … it’s personal, it’s warm, it’s comforting …

    … maybe you are hanging around or listening to old guys too much …

    … I love handwritten notes … I’m an old guy …

  6. Annoddah Dave July 11, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    CAT: Nothing expresses your love than a handwritten note. What I hate is passing out thank you cards at the funeral!

  7. Masako July 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    I hated when my mom would make me write thank you notes but as I got older I realize the importance of it. I too appreciate when people take the time to hand write a Thank you. Now I have a hard time getting my kids to do it, I guess they just like me but I hope they one day appreciate all the nagging i do to make sure it gets done. I especially appreciate when they acknowlege a gift that I took time to pick out especially for them.

    I get turned off when they pass out the generic ones at the reception table at parties…. Like someone mentioned earlier….why bother.

  8. WildeOscar July 11, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Cat, you’re exactly correct in this. You’re doing the perfect thing.

  9. Surfing at Fifty July 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    Cat, Congratulations to you and Derek. The first thing my mom taught me do do was to say thank you. When my wife Liz and I got married, my wife made me write the thank you notes to my guests and friends(I thought the wife did that), which I am glad. To this day I am still trying to thank people for advice they gave me 40 years ago. There is nothing like a written thank you note because it completes the circle. Thanks for writing your blog because I have been on the Grand Canyon Sky bridge and had better eating experiences.

  10. Wayne Harada July 12, 2012 at 8:58 am #


    From a longtime buddy, congrats on the wedding, of course — and from my perch, handwritten notes rule.
    Email is fast.
    But the postmarked card will last — practically forever!
    Haven’t you kept and revisited a card or letter that meant something…and discovered it while sorting through accumulated stuff? It brings a new smile, perhaps a tear, maybe even provoking a phone call.
    Even on a generic printed-message card, a few scribbles will personalize the sentiment.
    That’s why, years ago, I resorted to making my own cards to suit a very specific occasion.
    Handwritten is hands-down, a winner.

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