Our words matter
I am 50 years old, but I can still vividly remember being 15 years old, half smiling, half rolling my eyes when my dad would say for the 23rd time in a week, “Have I told you lately that I love you?”
I would dramatically sigh and emphatically say, “Yessssss dad. You told me. And you told me yesterday and the day before.”
He would chuckle and say, “Good. I will tell you tomorrow too.”
And when I went off to college, I would often find a handwritten letter from my dad in the mailbox, filling me in on life at home and always ending with a reminder about how much he loved being my dad.
His words were a gift.
When my girls were little, I often tried to write notes in their lunch boxes, wishing them a good day and yes, telling them that I loved them.
My youngest daughter seemed to live for these notes and often was quite verbal about it. If I forgot, she would hop in the car at carpool and immediately tell me that I had forgotten a note and that she really hoped I wouldn’t forget tomorrow.
My forgetfulness was most likely rooted in the chaos of the morning which may have included me yelling at my girls to get their shoes on while lecturing them about how they needed to get their stuff organized the night before so that mornings weren’t so hectic. My lectures didn’t include words of encouragement or love – either to their faces that morning or in their lunch box.
But even on the calmer mornings, when I had some extra time to write a note, I was often grabbing a piece of scrap paper, ripping it into pieces and scribbling some quick note to my girls. Even so, my youngest daughter didn’t care about the ripped paper. She just wanted to see my written words of love to her.
I think my two older daughters liked the notes too, but it wasn’t until a few years later when I found my oldest daughter’s lunchbox in the basement that I understood. Inside the zipper pocket, was a pile of the notes I had written to her. She had saved all them. Every scrap of paper with my chicken scratch. My words mattered to her too.I thought about how helpful pre-made cards would have been for writing notes to my girls. And not just blank cards or cards with a written message, but cards that would be fun. Cards with fun facts or jokes or riddles. But also space to write a thoughtful note. To speak words of love and truth to them. Cards that would be different each day with something specific about them that I could write. And maybe cards that would build character and help them to learn and grow and think.
So years later, I made those cards. And in my dad’s memory and honor, I named them “Have I Told You Lately.” It is my hope that as we see this box sitting on our counters, it will be a reminder to tell people in our life just how much we love them.
Our words always matter.
You can buy a box here. Buy one for yourself and one for a friend. I hope they help and I hope you enjoy using them as much as I enjoyed making them.
A Letter From My Dad… 30 Years Later
I recently traveled home to see my mom who hasn’t been well. One afternoon, she asked me to check in her closet to make sure her purse was where she left it when she got sick. I knelt down to open the drawer and noticed an old address book filled with papers and envelopes. One envelope stuck out more than others and I immediately recognized my father’s handwriting. I slid the envelope out of the book and was surprised to see it was a letter he had written and mailed to me when I was a junior in college. My heart leapt as I peered inside and found a three page letter.