It’s the same way every year. After I’ve carefully chosen my Christmas cards — opting for the ones with the most generic, cheerful message; the prettiest photo — I sit down and carefully stamp, address and decorate each envelope. Once I’m satisfied that they’re sparkly, fun and/or full of enough glad tidings, I grab my favorite blue Sharpie, crack open a card and . . .
What do I say? It’s not as though I send out a million generic holiday cards, but I definitely want to put my own “stamp” on each one. It’s not enough for me to merely sign my name, slap that baby in the mail and call it a day. I want to add something personal and upbeat, but still meaningful. I want the right words.
And how about the unhappy times I have to offer condolences? Numerous times have sympathy cards been passed around my office, brought over by another coworker who hovers while I try to write something meaningful. “So sorry” sounds trite, but what can I say? I usually go for the old standard “sorry for your loss.” But in many cases, that doesn’t begin to describe how I feel.
When it comes to handwritten notes, I’m old school. My grandmother and I have kept up an old-fashioned letter writing relationship since I was in college and not seeing her as often as I used to. When I receive handwritten fan mail at work, I always write back — in my own handwriting. With a stamp and everything. Email, Facebook and Twitter are great for communicating quickly, and with people all over the world. But for those in our lives with whom we have a face-to-face relationship, nothing beats a hand-addressed, handwritten card.
And that’s really the focus of Sandra E. Lamb’s Write the Right Words: Messages From The Heart for Every Occasion. It’s not about finding the “perfect” message to scrawl in any and every card you might send, but about actually sending the card — and with a note. If you’re anything like me, you probably spend a great day of time in Hallmark, Target or Wal-Mart pouring through the aisles of cards seeking the “right” one — that one that best fits what you feel, or are trying to say. The pre-printed message inside a card is very important but so, too, is the note you write yourself.
In Write The Right Words, Lamb offers idea-starters for any and all situations in which you might find yourself looking to send a personal note. There’s all the happy stuff, of course, like birthdays, holidays, graduations and engagements — but there’s the sad stuff, too, like the loss of a loved one or pet, the end of a marriage or a prolonged illness. With tact and practical suggestions, Lamb gives readers a glimpse into the traditional etiquette behind each situation, provides quotes dealing with each subject matter and gives real examples of what you could say on your own card.
The book does, in fact, feel like a work book — a tangible guide to choosing the right words. I found her suggestions when writing condolences especially useful, because what do you say in the face of terrible tragedy? What can possibly be right? Lamb doesn’t assert that anything is the one and only right thing to say; merely, an idea of what to say.
All of her examples are given to get your own creative juices flowing. What you write in your cards should be personal, of course, but sometimes it’s hard to get thinking, fun and endearing. Some of Lamb’s suggestions have religious connections, but they’re not frequent or heavy-handed. The quotes she provides, too, could be used as-is (with attribution, of course!) in a message you might send.
Overall, I really enjoyed flipping through the book and definitely took some practical suggestions from Lamb’s words. I love that she is an advocate for the written word — something I feel strongly about. And not the typed, digitized, tiny-print-on-your-screen version; I’m talking the real deal. Blotched ink, misspelled words and all.
Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours