How to write what you feel at this personal time of year

Of course you know how you feel. But do you know how to write it down?


In many countries this is the time of year when we exchange Holiday wishes; we catch up on news with old friends and family who live far away; we thank such friends and family for their thoughts, their kindness, their hospitality, their gifts and more.

So what are the best ways to express wishes and thanks?

Possibly it’s fair to say that handwritten thank-you notes or letters and even greeting cards might be considered a bit passé these days. But are they? Really?

For your contemporaries, writing anything other than a text or email to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” can be thought of as a bit too elaborate. But for our older relatives and friends – and the younger ones who still value traditional correspondence and communication – the written word still means more than the digital variety.

Written thoughts and thanks from children are more precious than gold

I remember from when my son was in the single-figure age bracket and became bolshier and bolshier about writing greeting cards and thank-you cards to his grandparents.

He found the whole process to be a pain in his pre-teenage *rse. I had hell-on-wheels to get him to correspond with his grandparents, even when they had sent him something lovely.

I can see some of you nodding in sympathy as I write this. And the sad truth is that once our kids are old enough to realise what an important difference it makes to older relatives for them to write a few words, usually those relatives are too old to care any more.

What advice can I offer on personal writing?

Here are some further articles from HTWB that you might find useful at this particular poignant and sensitive time of year…

What to write for Holiday greetings without upsetting religious apple carts
One of the trickier challenges of welcoming cultural and religious diversity into our lives is acknowledging and sharing the wide range of holidays people celebrate. In many countries although many religious faiths do not celebrate Christmas, for example, they still are affected by it and actually enjoy it in their own ways. This article looks into the best ways of handling greetings to non-Christian friends at this time of year.

How to write a thank you note that really means it
There are many ways to say “thank you” and not all of them are appropriate. A good “thank you” needs to come not only from the heart, but more importantly, from your heart to the heart of the person you’re thanking. Here are some suggestions on how to do that well.

Have we forgotten how to write from the heart – and hand?
Despite our electronic culture, there’s nothing quite so special as a personal, hand-written note in a greeting or thank-you note. It’s all the more appreciated not only by older people for whom handwritten letters were the norm, years ago, but also for people who are so used to seeing everything as digital type on a screen that a handwritten note or card is an unusual experience.

Why can’t schools teach kids to write right when they’re young?
As this article describes, many modern junior and senior schools feel that pulling kids up for incorrect spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax interrupts their “creative flow,” as my son’s English teacher once said to me. But when later on they might be turned down for a job because their CV/resumé contains spelling and grammar mistakes, how do their teachers justify that?

How to get your kids to write better – and enjoy it
Following on from the article above, if your kids’ teachers don’t seem to be getting on top of their writing skills, here are some thoughts on how you – as a parent – can help them do it and enjoy it into the bargain.

How to make it fun for your kids to say thank you
Those of us with kids know the syndrome well: after the Holiday Season we have to write thank-you notes to (usually) older relatives who aren’t impressed by text/SMS messages and cryptic emails. Here are some thoughts to make the process more enjoyable for the kids, and make the recipients happy at the same time.

Why handwriting just won’t lie down and die
Another article about handwriting that reinforces the notion that hand-written notes and letters have not been totally snuffed out by electronic communications. On the contrary: by the fact that they are now so rare, they have regained a special place in our social writing.

How to write about difficult or painful issues
Sometimes during the Holiday Season you may need to address a relative’s or friend’s recent problems – especially a bereavement, a cancer diagnosis, or other personal sadness. This compilation shares a number of articles on how to write appropriately to people dealing with such painful experiences and suggests ways to communicate your support.

Good luck with your personal writing

…and never forget that what you write from the heart can never be improved upon.

What are your views on personal writing?

Please share!