Are handwritten notes a thing of the past? Not so fast

QUESTION: Have handwritten notes gone away? Or are people still writing cards, letters and notes? So many people answer by text or email, it is very novel to receive something handwritten.

CALLIE’S ANSWER: Handwritten notes are few and far between but that doesn't mean they're not appreciated.

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LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: When I was young, I would attend summer camp for seven weeks and wrote one letter home, maybe two, each summer. One time my parents had to call to make sure I was OK. But when I wrote the one letter near the end of the summer, I think it was 14 pages long and detailed the entire summer. It just took a long time — mentally — for me to sit down and write it in between doing all the things I wanted to tell my family about. Instead of a quick note to say I was having fun, which is probably what they needed, I wanted them to KNOW and UNDERSTAND everything.

I love receiving handwriting notes, and I actually am happy when I take the time and send them. My problem is in wanting them to be a perfect and originally composed encapsulation of all that the receiver means to me in that moment, as well as newsy and informative. I do fall short in this area, but I don’t think handwritten notes have gone away. I think they are lovely and meaningful to receive, and they can be saved much more easily than a text or an email. (I save emails, too, though — I definitely am not a zero-inbox person.) I also have some beautiful notecards at my home, including some that others created, and I don’t want to part with them.

But since you’re asking, take the time to connect with the person you’re thinking about, however it works in the moment. Call, text, email, make plans in person — or write the note. Maintaining meaningful connections with people — however you do it — is a beautiful thing.

HELEN’S ANSWER: This year I have received some lovely handwritten notes. Some were thank yous for gifts (even from the grandchildren) and some were general correspondence. Two of them were from out-of-town friends that I rarely see. One note was from a University of Oklahoma journalism foundation person writing a very personal handwritten note for my birthday. All of these were really special and I appreciated people taking their valuable time to write. What a beautiful way to communicate.

It is still important to send those thank-you notes. I don’t always get them out, but, after the experience of receiving so many this year, I will try really hard to get back in the habit of handwritten thank-you notes. I will also remember to keep in touch with people that I have not corresponded with in years. It means a lot!

GUEST’S ANSWER: Kelly Dyer Fry: communications director, Mental Health Association Oklahoma: It is always nice to receive a handwritten thank-you note, but there are many instances I do not think it is necessary. Saying thank you in person is acceptable if you receive a gift directly from someone.

In most professional instances, I believe email can suffice. One instance I believe we should stop thank-you notes all together is following a death. It is not helpful for grieving family members to face a mountain of thank-you notes when getting through the day may be all they can do.

Among close friends, a text is fine. The one time I believe they are still called for is wedding gifts. With registries, people may like the confirmation their gift arrived. In short, wedding couples are still on the hook. Everyone use your own discretion.

Since 2009, Callie, Lillie-Beth and Helen have written this generational etiquette column. They also include guest responses from a wide range of ages each week. So many years later, Callie is 20-plus; Lillie-Beth is 40-plus and Helen is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Handwritten notes aren't always required anymore, but they're appreciated