Charlie Brown, of PEANUTS fame.  (book picture from Wikipedia; all other pictures by Marylin Warner)

Charlie Brown, of PEANUTS fame. (book picture from Wikipedia; all other pictures by Marylin Warner)

Stamps make mailed cards and letters extra special and come in an amazing assortment of choices.

Stamps make mailed cards and letters extra special and come in an amazing assortment of choices.




Charlie Brown was the star character of the popular comic strip by Charles Schultz, PEANUTS, which began in 1950. Charlie Brown’s wishful thinking about being noticed by the little red-haired girl began a theme of love disappointments that lasted for more than five decades.   This is one of his most often quoted cartoon lines: “There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters…I could be their leader.”

Charlie Brown didn’t want a phone call, a signature-only Valentine card, an email, a text or a twitter; he wanted a letter. Actor Keanu Reeves said this about a letter’s importance. “Letters are something from you. It’s a different kind of intention than writing an e-mail.”

Letters can be saved, to be read again and again. Greeting cards that arrive in the mail—especially with personal messages written inside—can be displayed on a bedside table or a shelf, reminders that someone, some-where still thinks of you and cares enough to stay in touch. Visit a nursing home, an assisted living, a hospital room or the home of an invalid to see how treasured the cards and letters are by those who receive them.

Valentine’s Day is still more than a week away. Plenty of time to buy a Valentine card, a greeting card of any kind, or even just write, type or print a letter to someone. One of my favorite quotes about happiness (attributed to numerous writers, including Joseph Addison) is this: “The grand essentials of happiness in this life are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.”

For lonely, ill, or older neighbors, family and friends, or those who are getting forgetful or suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, I would change the last grand essential to this: “…a grand essential of happiness is something that shows I’m remembered.”

To be remembered is a treasured gift.

She wrote this message in chalk to her Grandpa.

Grace wrote this message in chalk to her Grandpa.


Greeting cards can be much appreciated, too, if there's a personal message written inside.

Greeting cards are appreciated, too, if there’s a personal message written inside.

Years ago, when Grace was learning to write cursive, she wrote this for my mom.  Mor-Mor-Mor means mother's mother's mother in Swedish.

Years ago, when Grace was learning to write cursive, she wrote this for my mom. Mor-Mor-Mor means mother’s mother’s mother in Swedish.

Before Gannon could write, he "practiced" with chalk on the fence.

Before Gannon could write, he “practiced” with chalk on the fence.



Filed under art, Different kinds of homes, friends, importance of doing good things, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, making a difference, Special days in February, special quotations

48 responses to “GET IT IN WRITING

  1. juliabarrett

    It’s so true, Marylin. Now I’m going to send some personal Valentines. Thank you for reminding me how to reach out and touch the people I love.

  2. When you were a hospice nurse, Julia, especially if it was for an elderly person, did you notice how much handwritten cards and letters and notes meant to your patients? I visited a neighbor who had saved every card, every photo or child’s crayoned picture included in a letter, and they lined her window sill and filled a basket by her chair. Her daughter told me that when she had hours to go before her next pain med, it helped her to reread some of the letters, especially those that had person information like “…I remember when you…” and then kept alive a memory for her.

  3. Ah, this is a sad post for me because I so miss letters from my Granny. She only lived 50 miles or so away from my family and we saw her often. Still she wrote letters to my mom, her daughter, every week. Mom would read them to us and then we could read them ourselves. Then Gran wrote to me in college, in St. Louis as a newlywed. She has been gone over 35 years and I still miss her handwritten letters–a lamb was born, she was sewing me a blouse, Gramps did something stupid, the birddog was now sleeping in the house, the peacocks were screaming….. I still go the mailbox everyday to nothing important but still expecting letters from Gran or others that just aren’t there these days.

    • Oh, Claudia, the details you share from your Granny’s letters create a beautiful and touching picture of her. I can understand why you miss her even now. But are there others–friends, older women you know from church or in nursing homes–that would appreciate a handwritten message on a card from you, and treasure it as much as you treasured your grandmother’s messages?
      I wish you a happy week ahead, filled with beautiful memories of Granny.

  4. This year we are sending hand-written valentines to our grandchildren. Although they live only 7 miles in different directions from us, Cliff though we should send them in the mail, with a stamp featuring fireworks and a flag and eventually postmark. I added words, Cliff made drawings. They go in the mail today. We sent one too to Aunt Ruthie now in nursing care. I wish I could sent one to Mother.

    The photos of Grace and Gannon are adorable. I believe Gannon may be practicing for Tom Sawyer’s white-washing scene!

    • Marian, you hand-written valentines to your grandchildren and your Aunt Ruthie will be very special keepsakes.. I’m still smiling at your plans to write the words to add to Cliff’s drawings, and then the fireworks and flag stamps on the envelopes. I love it!
      From the time Grace and Gannon were very young, they’ve been eager to “write” messages on the fence and the sidewalks and bring smiles to all of us.

  5. Our family doesn’t do Valentine cards…I don’t think I’ve ever received one. But we do write thank you letters and cards after birthdays and Christmas, we send postcards from holidays and of course, choosing a suitable birthday card and writing a personal message goes without saying. I have kept everything my son ever sent, card wise. There is now a standing family joke that every card he sends now features Venice in some form or other. He’s had to be quite inventive so as not to replicate them!

    • Valentine’s cards pale in comparison to the wonderful cards and letters that are your family’s tradition, Jenny. This is wonderful, and such a pattern to create in the lives of your children, too. WOW!

  6. Lately, I have had access to some old family letters and cards. It has been a lovely experience going through them. I wonder what we will do in our old age…..hold our computers for comfort? There will be few cards and even fewer letters for us unless we make an effort now to commit to them.

    • My computer would be cold comfort, that’s for sure, Gallivanta! 🙂
      After my aunt died and we flew out to California to clean out her house, I found boxes she’d kept of things I’d sent to her: drawings, birthday letters, pictures I’d taken at camp, drawings I’d made in art class, and stories I’d written. She’d kept them all and tied them in groups to fit in the box. That was when I first realized the power of real mail and handwritten messages.

  7. I think you know by now, I’m a big fan of the handwritten letter, cards and notes. Giving them and receiving them provides a wonderful and warm feeling. I’ll admit, I’ve got boxes of letters, etc., that I just can part with…no, I’m not a hoarder. 🙂 Grace has a million dollar smile, Marylin!

    • She does, Jill. As a little girl (in the picture when she wrote on the sidewalk) and now, on the edge of being a teen, Grace still has a sweet smile that melts my heart.
      I remember you’re a fan of handwritten cards and letters, Jill; I hope that in your novel–or the next one–you main character is a fan, too, and it is part of her personality, like yours.

  8. There is nothing like a real letter. No text or email can take its place.
    How did you know I was a big fan of Charlie Brown’s? I have followed him since I was a little girl.
    Marylin, I have a box filled with thank you notes and letters from friends. When I am feeling down, i get that box out and read. I feel better in a few minutes.
    I already bought Penelope’s Valentine and I can’t wait to write X’s and O’s inside of it.
    Love, Joanne

    • And when Penelope is big enough to sit on your lap or cuddle beside you in a chair, Joanne, she’ll love to go through that box with you and see all the pretty pictures on the cards and hear you read the messages. She’ll be your little shadow, and she’ll have her own box of cards, beginning with this first Valentine’s Day card with the Xs and Os! ❤

  9. Living in Spain, far from my family, we do a happy dance when we get a card or note in the mail. A hand written note or post card goes a long way. I send them regularly to my mom in a nursing home.

  10. Jim

    Marylin, you are so right about the sincerity embodied in personalized cards and letters. For as long as I can remember, I have sent birthday cards with personal messages and a little money to my niece and nephews. They always reply with a personalized, handwritten ‘thank you’ message delivered by USPS. Their extra effort in the midst our current electronic era doesn’t seem like much to a lot of people, but it means a lot to me. I worry how much longer we will have USPS service. This treasured form of personal communication may be passing away, and it’s a shame. But we will always have the picture of Grace and her message to Grandpa on the sidewalk. How special is that!

    • That picture of Grace writing a message to you on the sidewalk is one of my favorites, honey. And I know how much you enjoy the cards and notes from your niece and nephews.
      Our need to give and receive…and create…special messages is strong in our family. One of my favorite pictures of Gannon is when he’s too little to write anything, but he boldly “wrote” on the fence with the chalk. Ah, the memories we have! ❤ ❤ ❤

  11. Marylin, “to be remembered is a treasured gift”. Grace’s letter and her beaming smile is so precious as is Gannon’s earlier chalkboard art. I’m sure your mom must have a lot of cards. Blessings, Marylin. 🙂

  12. Thanks for the reminder Marylin

  13. You’re welcome, Judith. I hope it triggered memories of letters you’ve received and reminded you of those who would love to hear from you. 🙂

  14. Nancy Saltzman

    Another column I loved reading! It reminded me of all the heartfelt letters I have received over my lifetime (which are saved in boxes in my office and garage.) Thank you!

    • And I remember the chapters in your book when you talk about letters and hugs and drawings from your students, Nancy, enough to fill many boxes. Wonderful expressions of love and caring for you. These reminders really are “keepers” in our lives. ❤

  15. Beautifully said, Marylin! My mother is such a gifted letter writer you can hear her voice as you read. She’ll be 90 in less than a month and I know that number of letters I’ll receive in the future are limited. Each one is a piece of home, a gift. It’s my hope that the upcoming generation will enjoy the uplifting benefits from giving and receiving such a gift! Having it arrive in a colored envelope is a smile-inducing bonus!

    • It is so important, isn’t it, Shel? And then I learned that in many elementary schools, they’ve opted out of teaching cursive writing because it takes too much time that could be used to teach keyboarding and computer skills. But of course if they don’t learn to write cursive, then they probably won’t know how to read cursive, either. Plus, think of all the letters that won’t be sent or received. 😦

      • I, too, was dismayed to hear that some schools (including our local school district) has taken cursive writing out of the curriculum. There’s so much personality in handwriting! Hand-written letters might soon be a thing of the past. So sad.

      • And if we were writing sci-fi, Shel, imagine what would happen if all the power grids failed, and kids had to learn to write and read writing, and draw on walls. Oh, wait, that would be graffiti, and many can already do that… 😉

  16. Well said! These scratches on paper are incredibly powerful! My mother has some love letters from her grandmother to her grandfather. I have every card and letter from my husband. Once during a work retreat, we had the opportunity to write affirmations to one another anonymously and insert them into individual boxes–much the way we used to exchange Valentine cards at school. I saved mine! I became very angry many years ago when I broke up with my college boyfriend and he came into my room and stole back all the letters he had written to me. I didn’t want to marry him but he had been an important part of my life, my history. I thought that was unfair. We parted on excellent terms otherwise.

  17. I sent off valentines to my two oldest grandsons (both 2) just this morning (before reading this) and reflected on how much I loved getting mail as a kid, and wondered if they would ever grow up to use mail like I do! I also sent a belated card to a fellow Lion’s Club member regarding the death of her mother. I’m a card person for sure!

    • You’re definitely a card person, Melodie! Good for you. And cards for two-year-old grandsons are wonderful. And after the death of a loved one, receiving belated cards is sometimes a treasured correspondence, to hear from someone later, after the reality has set in. I’m sure your friend appreciated it.

  18. Molly

    It is amazing how a hand written message on a sheet of paper or in a wonderful card means so much. You and Dad both are so good at sending just the right message inside of a card. It always means so much to me, Grace, Gannon and Trevor. THANK YOU!

    I absolutely adore the pictures that you chose for this week. The one of Grace writing on the sidewalk, and Gannon doing his form of baby writing on the fence must be some of my favorite pictures of them. Thank you for sharing them.

  19. Hi, Mookie,
    We have so many pictures of Grace and Gannon that we love, but these are two of our favorites. Their writing talents are exceptional! 😉 And they make us so happy every time we look at them. Do you help your students write cards or notes to their parents or grandparents? Speaking as a Mor-Mor, it’s something a grandma would treasure. ❤ ❤ ❤ Love you lots.

  20. When I came to the United Staes my my father would send me a letter every week and I would write one every Sunday evening , a ritual I miss to this day. When my father died my mom and I would call instead of wrIting letters.

  21. Aw, Gerlinde, what a wonderful letter writing ritual you had with your father.
    Now when you call and talk with your mom, that’s a great way to stay in touch, hear each other’s voices and feel like you’re almost there. But I hope you still sometimes send each other letters, too. I love rereading cards and letters months and even years later.

  22. Letters and written greetings are even more special now, aren’t they? I do get a couple of letters from abroad at Christmas but that’s about it these days. And even Christmas cards are dwindling as so many people say they’re just donating to charity instead.

    • I agree that the rarity of written letters and greetings makes them even more special, Andrea. Before email and texts, when cards and letters were almost all handwritten, I think I took them for granted. Now I treasure every one.

  23. Marylin,

    I’m traveling to New Zealand today. So this will be a short, sweet, love letter. Before we left, we sent real cards to all our darlings. And we got darling homemade ones in the mail. Your pictures are precious. And your post just reminded me of someone I missed. Off to find a real Valentine in San Francisco!

    • I’m always glad if I somehow keep someone from being left out, Shirley. Have a wonderful trip to New Zealand, and enjoy those darling homemade cards you received in the mail. Happy Valentine’s Day. ❤

  24. ‘Get it in Writing’ Oh Marylin, your excellent blog title says it all. I absolutely agree, cards and letters are so important. You can’t display a text or an email, it’s not the same at all. I’m heartened that card shops are still full of people at holiday times, Valentine’s no exception. That gives me hope for the world! Happy Valentine’s Day to you dear friend, may it be filled with joy and love ❤

  25. I still treasure the letters my Dad’s Day wrote to me back when I was a kid. Letters are, indeed, a sign that someone remembers you and cares for you.

    We always display the cards we get. When I look at them, I think of the person who sent it … and that makes me smile. 😉 Happy Valentine’s Day, Marylin. ❤

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