The Importance of Friendly Letters

By Little House on 3 December 2010 (Updated 16 December 2010) 5 comments
Photo: DeepinNet

Today's youth are experts when it comes to using technology to keep in touch with their friends and family, but they are lacking some important etiquette skills like writing friendly letters. Of course, some could argue that friendly letters aren't a necessity since email and text messaging are such prevalent ways to communicate; they are quick, easy to use, and don't require good grammar or paragraph formatting.

However, after many years of teaching, I still teach my students how to write a friendly letter. Writing friendly letters to friends and pen pals adds a more personal touch than sending a quick text message or email. Friendly letters require the writer to think about a main idea, details, an introduction, and a closure. Thinking about the topics that need to be included makes a letter much more personal, and there are many times when a friendly letter is much more appropriate to send than an impersonal electronic message.

Family Update Letters

Once a year, I receive traditional family update letters tucked inside holiday cards from a few relatives and friends. Since they're meant for a broad audience, they're a little less personal than a letter meant only for one reader. Yet they're a great start to begin a renewed pen pal correspondence and catch up with those who don't live nearby. These letters often share events or milestones that are easier said through a letter than a phone call or quick email. And since the writers have a choice of stationery and can decide if they want to personalize the letters further using their own handwriting, the letters can convey the writers' tone more effectively.

Personalized Thank You Notes

From baby showers to wedding showers to other gift-giving occasions, thank you cards are still a great way to show appreciation for a gift or someone's thoughtfulness. There are plenty of thank you card designs to choose from at your local grocery or stationery store, but adding a special message on the inside of the card is a great way to make the generic card more personal.

Letters Rejuvenating Long-Lost Friendships

Facebook has provided an impressive service for finding old friends that I've lost touch with; whether I wanted to find them or not, there they are. However, what I've found is that though I can view my long-lost friend's newest profile picture or read what they've posted on their wall, I haven't really reconnected with them on a more personal level. To do so requires a bit more effort, and what better way to reconnect and catch-up with each other's lives than through a letter and follow-up phone call? Depending on how many months or years have passed, a letter can provide a way to bridge the gap of missing years. Obviously you don't want a friendly letter to become your autobiography, but beginning a pen pal correspondence would help fill in some of the milestones you've missed in each other's lives.

With the holidays approaching, what better time than now to include personalized notes or a friendly letter in a few close friends' and relatives' holiday cards? Even a few quick words can make the card more special and create a stronger bond.

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Guest's picture

I concur! The power of handwritten notes go a long way these days. They show people you cared to take the time for them, which shows they mean something to you. It's amazing how infrequent people even send thank you notes these days!

Little House's picture

Oh I can't stand when gift recipients, especially newly married couples, forget to send thank-you notes! Cursive handwriting is another skill I think is falling by the wayside, but I also try to instill its importance with my students as well.

Guest's picture
dana

(Sigh.) I use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But NONE of them can replace my personalized stationery. I seem to be the only person to call the front desk at hotels anymore to ask why there is no stationery in my room. I actually account for post cards and postage in my travel budget as post cards ARE the souvenirs to my friends and family. I fight with my daughter about the inappropriateness of sending an email to thank people for gifts. I have even started to scan my cards and letters before sending them so my daughter will have records of my correspondence long after I'm pushing up daisies.
This may seem terribly old fashioned from someone like myself who stays glued to my laptop and sends text messages on my phone daily. What can I say? Letter writing is in danger of becoming a lost art.
And there's nothing like flipping through my "snail mail" and discovering a card or letter from someone I care about. :-)

Little House's picture

I couldn't agree more. There's something to be said for an actual, physical card instead of an e-card. It's much more personal.

Guest's picture

I have the seen the power that personalized handwritten thank you notes have. I now make it a habit to keep blank thank you cards, envelopes, stamps, stickers, and finger puppets on me at all times.

It's important to write and mail a thank you note immediately after someone has gone out of their way to do something for you. The longer you wait, the less impact it has.

Ultimately, it's about feeling appreciated. We all want to feel appreciated.