This is Day 13 of our 31 Days of Less and More series. To read all the posts in order, start with Day 1 and check out our overview page to see the topics for the entire month.


Let us all then leave behind letters of love and friendship, family and devotion, hope and consolation, so that future generations will know what we valued and believed and achieved. ~Marian Wright Edelman, foreword from Letters to a Nation

Several years ago, I embarked on a rather large adventure of reading the letters that John and Abigail Adams wrote to each other.  I read the ones in this book, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams and then searched for many others online.  I sat every night, spellbound, as I marveled at the discipline, love and skill it must have taken to write those volumes of letters.  I was completely inspired and thankful, to be the heir of such a generous legacy.

It sparked a love and interest for handwritten notes that still lives on in me.   I LOVE the beauty of the written word and I always am writing things down in my daily journal.  As much as I love and use my computer, nothing will ever replace pen and paper for me.  And I only use one certain kind of pen—so to avoid the horrors of writing with a bad pen.  I have five or six of them in my purse, ten or so in my car, a few at my desk, and two by my bed.  Penless, I shall never be.  Sadly,  I have regrettable handwriting, or at least that’s what my kids tell me.  One thing is for sure, I make large, flowery letters and have a barely legible signature.  But, I do have an incurable love for writing with a pen and I think it’s a lost art that we would do well to recover.

I do much less handwriting than I used to but I still love sending and receiving hand-written notes.  Every year at Christmas and birthdays, I usually take a little time and write my kids a love letter.  I remind them how much I love them and I like to name specific qualities about them that I admire.  By far, the most special part of the process is that it’s in my  hand-writing.  And I feel the same way when I receive hand written notes.  They are special and far too rare.

I have a little gem of a book called, The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication.  The author says,

Corresponding on paper lets you elevate a simple pleasure into an art form.  And art has always survived technology.  A handwritten note is like dining by candlelight instead of flicking on the lights, like making a gift instead of ordering one, like taking a walk instead of driving. When you write a note, you are giving yourself to the reader in the most civilized way.”

With the onslaught of digital everything, most of us are out of the practice of handwriting.  But this beautiful form of art and expression is never dated and never loses it charm.  And how many of us shuffle through our mail everyday, in hopes that maybe there’s one or two things handwritten?  I always open those first.  So, make someone’s day and handwrite them a note!

Challenge Day 13:  Now, it’s time to write a note.  First, search around and find your best pen and some paper or stationary.   Next, find a comfortable, well-lit spot to write.   Then, write a letter to your spouse or to each of your children—being sure to include the date, time, a loving greeting, and meaningful, heartfelt sentiments.   It doesn’t have to be long or complicated, just a few sentences expressing yourself in love to someone. If you’re more inclined toward the artistic side of letter writing, consider some calligraphy pens and good stationary.   A few years ago, I bought some calligraphy pens and handwrote all my Christmas cards.  It was so much fun to give and my family and friends were happy to receive them.


Be sure to read Ruth’s corresponding post, Less Email.

23 comments on “31 Days to Less and More, Day 13 {More Hand-Written Notes}”

  1. This is so true, Edie. I want to accept your challenge for today. My family will love it. I still have all the letters my maternal grandmother sent me. They are little pieces of her that I take out and read when the missing gets to be too much. I even run across one stuck back in a box or drawer every now and then. It is a treasure. My paternal grandfather sent postcards from all his trips. He would only write a few words, but they would crack us up. He was such a jokester. He passed away before Ethan could meet him, but I have the cards to relay the stories of his pappy to him.

    (Did you get an email from me?)

    • Renee!! I’ve been on an email hunt!! I got your lovely package and we were all giddy in the car when my girls opened it for me. YOU ARE SO THOUGHTFUL!!! I’m carrying the zippered pouch in my purse and loving it. What a beautiful gesture of exactly what we’ve been talking about in the series. I am so blessed by your support and encouragement. THANK YOU so much! I’m so sorry that you didn’t receive an email from me. I sent one from my phone, but when I looked back to try to find it, it’s not there. I can’t even find your original email, but I remember getting it? Something goes wrong every time I try to send emails from my phone. I feel terrible. Just know that you have been such a blessing to me in so many ways.
      Sending lots of love your way,

  2. I love this idea so very much! I immediately thought of notes my grandmother wrote us in the midst of her days — some were mailed letters, others were simple little things like a quote or verse. I have some tucked in my Bible, one taped to a cabinet door in the kitchen. They meant so much when she’d slip them to us and now that she’s gone they’re treasures, often rediscovered just when I need a boost (or kick in the rear!). Thank you! What a lovely challenge!

  3. I love this. Nothing better than seeing a hand-written envelope in your mailbox rather than a BILL! 🙂 A friend just sent me the sweetest card in the mail this week…a note of encouragement. She could have emailed or facebook messaged, but she took the time to sit and WRITE it out. I loved that. Great post.

  4. Well, how would you be? A couple of days ago I decided that I would write you a letter! And here you are writing this post. No doubt I will still write.

    In the meantime, you may like this book as well…
    For the Love of Letters: the Joy of Slow Communication by John O’Connell

  5. I too LOVE this post. I am a mom of 6 children, which includes 2 sets of twins! One of my favorite things to do was to leave my children little love notes on post it notes!.. The perfect size for a busy mom 🙂 One day I was in my daughter’s room and found a photo album, I opened it and it held pages and pages of post it notes in the photo sleeves. It brought me to tears…the notes were so special to her too. 🙂

  6. Love this series and especially this post. I love to receive handwritten notes instead of bills in the mailbox. I’m inspired to write more letters. Just curious, what type of pen do you use? I’m always on a quest for a great pen.

  7. Hi Edie
    A few years ago I started writing notes to people and the response was amazing. So many said how much it meant to them. As with many of the great ideas I have I didn’t continue with it. But now you have encouraged me to start at it again. Thank you
    ((Hugs)) Rhondi

  8. Thanks for the encouragement. My most treasured items are the written notes of dear ones who are with Jesus now. May my life never be too busy to tell others my love for them in sincere ways.

  9. Oh, yes, a good pen is like a good friend- tested, worth protecting, always having one near is a delight and not to be taken for granted, and I could go on…. Just last week I wrote a list of friends and acquaintances I’m purposing to write handwritten notes to by the end of this year. A small act (seemingly), but I’m finding that the carrying out of this commitment is changing and opening me one character, downstroke, thought at a time. Today I wrote two- one difficult because the relationship is not what I wish it was, and one a letter of thanks that increased my gratitude. Writing letters the last several days has been a lovely respite from crazy days and has been a deeply satisfying use of discretionary time.

  10. This weekend as I was sorting through things in the attic, I opened a box where my husband had saved letters I had written I’m after we first met some 25 years ago. I too had a box of letters he had written me. So after many hours Saturday night, I put all of the letters in chronological order, bound them with rings and a hole punch, and enjoyed reliving so many sweet, sweet memories. I surprised him Sunday morning, after his Bible study, with the “book of letters”. Words expressed with pen and paper never grow old, only sweeter with time. I tried to explain to our sons, that they will not be able to relive those “texts or emails” 25 years from now. More handwritten notes it will be!

  11. Love to receive old fashioned snail mail with thoughtful handwritten thoughts. It doesn’t happen very often anymore but I cherish everyone I receive.
    I also have certain pens I love to write with. Share with us which is your favorite.

  12. I, too, love sending handwritten notes, and to my shame I have not been doing it lately. It is amazing how many times people gush over receiving one, saying “it was just what I needed.” When God puts it on your heart to communicate with someone, DO IT. You may never know what it meant to the recipient.

    And, Edie, spill it! What is the only pen in the world for you? (You may want to negotiate a kickback deal before you tell us.)

  13. I miss my penpal, my Nanny (paternal grandmother). We used to write to each other all the time. My most treasured letter is from my Poppy (paternal grandfather) – his one and only.
    I have tried to find another (family) penpal, but no takers. Maybe I should just write with no expectation of receiving a reply?
    There is something so special about tactile things – photographs, letters, books. Things we hold in our hand, and connect to our heart. Thanks for the encouragement to continue an almost lost art.

  14. Thank you, Edie, for this reminder to not only show our love and care for those around us now, but by leaving a little of it behind with a written word to cherish later. At the end of last school year, one of my graduating students asked me if I’d like to receive mail from her as she ventured forth into college life. I was touched, and have loved the correspondence I’ve gotten, but am more delighted by the thought of her opening her mailbox to a hand-written note. Sheer bliss for all.

  15. I love this post, and I do think writing letters is kind of a lost art. I try to leave my husband little notes on the fridge or to send him cute text messages, but I miss the days when he was still in the military and we sent each other hand written letters. I also really love the idea of writing a letter to my son. He turns one in December, so maybe a letter on each birthday and then give them to him for a special occasion- maybe when he moves out of the house or gets married would be such a cool idea.

  16. Tickled pink to discover another ‘pen to paper’ friend. I really enjoyed this post and giggled at the multiple pens stored in your car, house etc. Sounds all too familiar. I’m a huge believer in the magic and meaning behind receiving what I call ‘ real mail.’ Nothing beats the time taken and thoughtfulness behind sending someone a letter. Not to mention the charm of deciphering the unique handwriting. Lovely to meet you.

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