Are you (or do you know) one of those people who for years has held onto a box of special “treasures”? It might be tucked into the back of a closet, or high upon a shelf. It might even be in your storage unit! But it’s in a safe place where you can occasionally take it down and look fondly through its contents.

They may be love letters from many years ago. They might be first drawings and crafts from your kids or grandkids. They could be the messages sent from your spouse on deployment. Or congratulatory notes upon graduations, engagements, weddings or births of babies.

One thing they probably have in common is that someone found you so special, that they took the time and effort to send a personal message to you, in an envelope, with a stamp on it! These messages have a big impact. For example, a prominent business leader related a few years ago that he has kept every personal card or note ever sent to him across his career of many decades. He found them so compellingly inspiring that they served as a source of encouragement even when times were tough.

Think about it: what could be a better way to end this holiday season than to engage in a centuries-old tradition that will make the recipient feel cherished, and will make you feel both grateful and appropriately attentive at the same time?

Oldies but Goodies

We have become completely comfortable with (in fact have embraced) the myriad technological ways in which we communicate today. The benefits are enormous and visible. Photographs and videos that short years ago were either impossible or prohibitively expensive are commonplace and readily available. They are also nearly instantaneous. Hooray for them!

At the same time, however, ask yourself how great it feels to pick up the mail delivered by the postal carrier, and to discover an envelope with real handwriting on it! Amid the bills and blurbs and mass produced bulk mail, when you spy that one piece of mail that stands out among all the rest, it’s likely you will save it for last, so you can savor the anticipation of opening it.

This is a perfect and fitting time of year to engage in the writing of thank you notes to the folks who have been kind and generous to you, in whatever way, during this holiday season. It’s a true win/win for both of you, and every bit of special effort will be worthwhile.

Across the Generations

Many of us grew up with parents who introduced us at very early ages to the concept of thank you notes. Some families operated on the principle of “if you want to keep it, you have to say thank you first.” Rapidly paced lives, along with decreased attention to what may be considered old-fashioned social strictures, have veered away from many previously expected practices in this area. But young kids are still eager to participate in what they consider to be “grown up” behaviors. That’s why “starting them young” is such a great idea. When children are first able to write the alphabet, even a few simple words put to paper and sent through the mail is exciting for them – and for the lucky person on the receiving end!

Making this activity a shared event can instill habits and social awareness that can benefit your kids throughout their lives. Take a long look ahead; did you know that numerous studies show that employers and recruiters commonly give additional weight to prospective employees who write post-interview thank you notes? What could be bad about that? But what if no one ever set the example or introduced the idea?

Reaching out to our loved ones in a way that makes them feel dear to us will never be outdated. And it will never go unnoticed or unappreciated. As time goes by, it has even greater significance and creates a memory for our “treasures” box.

How about a Resolution for the New Year, which you could actually keep? From time to time, single out individuals, be they parents, children, loved ones, mentors, or best friends, and then write a note expressing how much they mean to you. Put it into an envelope with a stamp, drop it into a mailbox, and create a special day (yes, perhaps even a lifelong keepsake) for that person you value. And give a hand to the US Postal Service in the bargain. They could use it!