This post is sponsored by Hallmark who shares my love of words on paper.
I initiated September last week, as all good premature fall lovers do, with a cozy evening drenched in all my favorite fall pleasures–the pipe smoke scented candles, sugared donuts, a fire in the fireplace (yes, in South Florida–I know) and the first seasonal viewing of the movie You’ve Got Mail. One cozy pleasure led to another and an orange spice hot tea later, I retreated to my office for another favorite–a card-writing session (it’s on my fall bucket list).
Recently, Hallmark asked me if I wanted to be part of their new Put It Into Words campaign, highlighting the power of sending and receiving cards for any reason, and I was all in.
Joining this initiative is something I passionately believe in because I know how much a card can change someone’s day–for both the receiver and the giver.
My favorite cards to send are my favorite ones to receive–not the obvious occasion cards like birthdays or anniversaries, but the heart of life that’s in between.
The acknowledgement of a week that sucked the life out of a friend.
The recognition that your friend put on her running shoes and took her first go at a good run after saying for two years that she wanted to start running again.
A list of five things your friend does better than anyone else you know because you think she might need to be reminded.
A thank you to the mom who has now picked up your kid for swim practice six times and dropped him back off after because she knows you have a lot on your plate on Tuesdays.
An “Aw, crap” for the job your friend wanted and worked so hard to get but lost to someone more qualified.
Or maybe just a funny little llama that opens to read: “Remember that time we rolled down the windows and drove downtown, blaring Snoop Dog before we remembered that we were in a minivan, almost 40 and nothing about us looked cool? Yeah, that was funny. (Was that the day we bought crop tops at Forever 21?)”
I understand the art of card giving because I come from a family with a rich card-writing past–grandmas with baskets stocked with the perfect card for every occasion, my dad who never sends a card without decorating the envelope with elaborate colored drawings, and my mom who taught me early on how to properly spell “stationery” with the hint that “pens and pencils” have an “e,” not an “a”. My grandma was such a faithful card sender that even in her last years, when she was fighting dementia and certainly after years of never missing a loved one’s celebration had earned her right to put her cards and stamps away; she still sent them, still wrote her own messages, still tucked in three bucks for “something special.” In fact, it was so important to her, for Christmas one year, cousins organized everything for a year’s worth of card-sending–a calendar with every loved one’s special dates to help keep her on track and cards ready to go, addressed and stamped…because it was about more than just a card. It was a ritual of expression that connected her to us and a way for her, as the world sped on around her, to stand out and be heard when she told us “I love you. I’m thinking about you. I sat down to write this with my hands and the whole time I did, you were on my mind.” Writing cards kept her heart alive when her memory was fading.
I understand what my grandma knew–that the act of writing words, preserving them on paper, and sending them to someone is a gift that’s more than just words on a card. It’s an experience, and when I open the door of the mailbox to find a colored envelope with a pretty stamp and my name scrolled in ink on the front, I get ridiculously excited. I know what follows…the whole sensory act of sliding a fingernail under the envelope flap to loosen the stick, of pulling out the card and feeling the weight of it in my hands, of taking in the colors, the design, the words, the handwriting. It’s knowing it wasn’t tapped out by thumbs on a device with half of the words predicted before they were finished…it was written–with loopy l’s and slanted y’s–for me. It’s keeping it propped up on the window sill long after I’ve read it so I can take in, as many times as I want to, the “I love you” at the end. Which is why I save so many of my cards.
I didn’t write anything particularly long in the cards I sent this past weekend, but I meant the few sentences I wrote. And though I can’t tell you yet what those cards did to brighten someone’s day because they’re currently on their postal journey, I can tell you what the card I got in the mail did for me last week.
It was from my mom–just a few sentences, sent for no other reason than to tell me she loves me, she’s proud of me and she’s so glad I’m her daughter.
I was over the moon. A hug in the middle of the day. The simplest gesture that went a long way…no one can have too many reminders that they are loved.
Want to join this initiative? Put into words the things you’ve been meaning to say…to your friend, your mother, your brother, your son, your kid’s teacher, that person who inspired you years ago (might need to do some research to find an address), the nurse who said the right things during a difficult time, your husband, your neighbor, your grandma. Tell them in words that they can hold and save and prop up on a windowsill. And if you’d like to hear other inspiring stories of how cards made an unexpected difference in someone’s life and enter for a chance to win free cards for a year and a $500 gift card to use on someone special in your life, check out more from Hallmark here.