Just before Thanksgiving Alex and I made another trip to Michigan – this time with my BFF Ashley in tow, to show her where we grew up, spend time with our friends and family, and eat at all our favorite restaurants (of course). Driving around our old neighborhoods brought back a lot of memories (some good, some bad) and made me stop and think about how much my hometown shaped who I am.
One afternoon at my parents’ house, my mom brought out a few boxes of old photographs. We sat on the couch laughing at changing hairstyles and silly faces, reminiscing about family members we’ve lost over the years, smiling as we remembered family vacations and holidays together. It was beautiful to share those moments with my husband and best friend, showing them a little more about who I am, where I came from.
Even though my family ties are much different now, I look at those photos and hold the memories dear. I’m thankful for those memories and grateful for the people I share them with, even if they aren’t an active part of my life any longer.
Below is one of my favorite family vacation photos (minus my mom, who was frequently our photographer). It was during a small hike in the Smoky Mountains, we stopped to wade in a creek.
It’s a bit too early for New Year’s Resolutions, but a big focus for me in 2015 will be being better at keeping in touch with friends and family. More texts, more phone calls, more trips… and more letter writing. As technology has given us instant access to every person we’ve ever met, we’ve in turn forgotten the art of handwriting letters. Who wouldn’t swoon if they received a beautiful, handwritten love letter?
In spirit of this month’s theme, I thought it would be a great project to write thank-you notes and notes of gratitude to get started in the letter writing business. We have another trip to Michigan coming up, so why not send a handwritten thank-you to our hosts once we get back? With Veteran’s Day on Wednesday, I plan on writing a letter of thanks for one or two of our service men/women, as part of Operation Gratitude.
I remember writing our thank-you postcards after our wedding. It was important for us to write each one by hand and specifically thank each guest for their contribution to our special day. Here are my tips for writing the perfect thank you:
Get the greeting right. Always triple-check your spelling of names, use nicknames when appropriate (my sister will always be “wee-butt” to me), include everyone from the household who contributed to your gift/good fortune.
Begin withthank you. Focus on the purpose of the letter or note, why the recipient(s) are receiving your note. Thank you for the lovely glass bowl… or I can’t thank you enough for attending my birthday party…
Include details. Describe how you’re going to enjoy your gift – or better yet, include a picture of it in use! If you received cash or a gift card, tell them what you plan on spending it on (if appropriate, of course!). If they showed up for an event, thank them for being a part of an important day for you. A small sentence of gratitude can pack a big punch.
Make plans. If you will see this person in the near future, include that you are looking forward to spending time them again soon. If it’s a long-distance friend or family member, tell them you miss them and are thinking of them.
Go out with a bang. I’m still working on my signature sign-off (so far, love+light is the frontrunner), but you don’t need one to end on a happy note. A good ole’ with love or many thanks will do the job.
I plan on making my own stationary, but there are plenty of options out there for beautiful paper products. I’m most excited about the new Happy Mail monthly subscription from A Beautiful Mess + Studio Calico. I pre-ordered the first month’s kit and think it’s such a sweet idea – a little motivation to help me maintain my year of staying connected. Do you still send letters or are you all digital? I’m curious if anyone out there is keeping an old tradition alive!