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    « Grandparents' guide to traveling with grandkids | Main | Sing-a-long with Grandma »

    How to write a keepsake letter to a grandchild

    Considering the proliferation of techy ways grandparents can now keep in touch with grandkids, it takes — for many of us — a fair amount of intention and forethought to actually create a handwritten letter for those little ones we love so much.

    It takes motivation, too, and motivations are a plenty this time of year, considering the upcoming season of special occasions. Spring and summer are filled with graduations — from kindergarten through college — as well as pending departures to college, weddings, relocations and more.

    Plus, regardless of season, there are always newborn grandbabies we want to commemorate with a letter for the baby book. There also are siblings of those newborns, to whom we want to express our love as they lose their only-child status and gain big brother or big sister status, and various special accomplishments and achievements for which we want to express our pride and delight.

    The reasons for writing to a grandchild are many, yet it's apparent by the high number of "How to write a letter to a grandchild" search queries that lead folks to Grandma's Briefs that many grandmothers are anxious about putting pen to paper and letting loose with their sentiments. In light of those searches, today I offer some tips to help grandmothers (and others) do exactly that.

    how to write a letter to grandchild

    • Choose paper that's representative of you and of fairly heavy stock. Perhaps that means a flowery stationery, maybe monogram letterhead, possibly just an ivory sheet of paper. Be sure to have a pen that glides comfortably for you, as well. (Fluorescent pink ink optional!)
    • One note before beginning: If you prefer using a word-processing application when writing your thoughts, first compose your letter in the application, then print for copying by hand onto the paper you intend for the special letter.
    • Consider what you most want to convey. Are you writing to welcome the babe to your world? Congratulate the child on an accomplishment? Comfort him or her during a rough time? You don't need to know exactly what you're going to say at the outset, only the reason you're reaching out and a general idea of what you wish to express.
    • Start the letter with the date at the top. As the letter will likely be cherished for years to come, it's important to have a date for the child to reference later when she pulls it from a box of keepsakes or finds it pressed between the pages of her baby book.
    • Choose a salutation that is you. No need to be stilted and formal. If Hey, Babycakes! is more your style than Dear Robert, stick with it. And stick with your regular handwriting, too, just write neatly. (You can opt for printing it rather than cursive, if you expect the child will read it himself.)
    • Begin with a loving statement on the child's well being, something along the lines of I hope you're having a great day. Or, if the child has been ill or dealing with a challenge, pose a question about the situation, such as How are things coming along with _____? Or for a new grandchild, try a simple Welcome to our family!
    • Now it's time for the meat of the letter. Start off by flat-out stating why you're writing the letter: I'm writing today to tell you how proud I am of you. Or, I'm sending you this letter so you always have my words to look back on as you begin this new adventure. Maybe, I wanted to put down on paper some stories of your family, so you know the history of those who love you. You know why you want to write the letter, so that is where you start.
    • From there, expand on the why. Write from the heart, from a place of love and caring for the grandchild. Don't edit yourself too much, and don't worry about saying things right and perfect and grammatically correct. Simply be yourself, and be conversational, as if you're talking in person to the grandchild. Sometimes we write better than we talk, and if that's the case, try imagining a conversation you might have with the child if you spoke the way you wish you could... then put that down on the paper.
    • There's no ideal letter length, so go short, go long, go whatever length allows you to say what you wanted to say. Once you've done that, wrap it up with a loving statement or two. No need to apologize for ending, no need to say, "Well, I better go!" Simply mention how thankful you are for the opportunity to let your grandchild know what's in your heart and how much you love and care about him or her.
    • Close with another loving statement: I love you. I'm thinking of you. You're in Grandma's thoughts. I'm praying for you. Again, just be you. Now might even be a great time to end with a phrase you want to be a special one between you and your grandchild. Hasta la vista, Baby! may not be the sentiment to share, but then again, if it's you, go for it.
    • Now sign — as your grandchild knows you. Grandchildren will forever hold dear Grandma's signature, so make it clear but make it you.

    Congratulations! You did it! You completed a handwritten letter to your grandchild.

    Now deliver it! And don't forget that regardless of your grandchild's age, an age-appropriate sticker on the envelope is sure to bring a smile — even if the recipient is a soon-to-be college graduate!

    photo: stock.xchng

    Today's question:

    When did you last handwrite a letter, to a child or otherwise?

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    Reader Comments (10)

    Thank you for a wonderful guide. Many decades later, and I still treasure my Nonnie's letters. The one she wrote to me about my engagement to my (now) husband and her love for him still moves me to tears.

    It's been years since I've handwritten a letter. I need to get to it!

    May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNonnieKelly

    These are such great ideas! Nothing like a handwritten note or letter! Another suggestion I would make is to make yourself a copy of the finished letter. I have a box for each of our children filled with cards and letters and drawings from them and their children, but I have also stashed in the box copies of letters I've sent to them just in case they didn't keep the original. My girls have gone through their boxes on occasion and were excited to see copies of the letters I had sent to them at the start of each of their years away at college many years ago

    May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTerry

    Terry: That is an awesome idea! With all the home copier/printers, such an easy extra. Thank you!

    Lisa this is wonderful! And very motivating to even Grandmas like me who see their grandchild often. I am going to do this! And I have to touch on a couple of things you said -- Yes, if want Amara to read it then it should be pink ink AND it better have stickers!

    I do have on aunt that I mail letters to but I admit that I have always done them on the computer and printed them. Being so used to writing emails I never thought to date those letters -- until she reminded me of it! I have also decided that from now on when Amara "writes" to her pen pals I am going to "write" to my aunt. She will love it! Have a great day. (Love Terri's idea! I am just going to scan them and keep them without printing them. I scan all of Amara's letters she sends.)

    May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    Sweet idea, this blog.

    I last sent my monthly hand-written letter to my little Mother, who was 99-years-old, two years ago, before she died.

    May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

    Lovely post and great ideas! I can't remember the last hand-written letter I wrote. That's kinda sad.

    May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTerri Sonoda

    Thought this was a great post that will be very helpful. When we write letters, the younger generation understands the impact a thoughtful and loving hand-written message can have...and may follow suit. When my daughter was a teenager, she wanted to show appreciation for something her father had done for her and asked me for possible gift ideas. I suggested that she express herself by writing to him...and she did. My husband keeps that card from her in his box of treasured mementos.

    May 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbelinda

    I wrote a letter in Milo's baby book shortly after he was born. I've written thank you cards several times over the past couple of years but no actual letters. I have blogged monthly letters to Milo since he was born. I should print them out so they aren't lost in cyberspace some day. I don't have any hand written letters from my grandmothers. Sadly.

    May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPammeey

    Great blog and lovely thoughts! I actually have a journal I've been keeping for Annabelle, my 3 yr old granddaughter. Her parents know exactly where it is so that, if I'm not around, they can give it to her after she marries or graduates from college or whenever they think it appropriate. I write a short, one page note following each visit talking about what we did that day, and also saying what my favorite part of that day was with her. I hope she will enjoy reading this journal as much as I enjoy writing it.
    Jane B

    May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJane B

    I read an amazing book called "Grandma Curly's Letters". Not only were her letters hand written, but she also illustrated them. She shared stories from her life and that way they got to know her as a person. I've written some of these fun type of letters to my grandchildren and even though they see me every day they are as excited to read them as if they lived far away. They also love writing back to me. I reviewed her book on my blog.

    May 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkelley
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