A few weeks ago something arrived at McKnight’s that stood out.

A thank-you note. A hand-written, properly addressed note, inscribed on actual stationary.

I know, I gasped, too.

For all the woes of the U.S Postal Service and for all the technology now at our fingertips, all of us, whether we’re an editor, administrator or nurse, can lose sight of the power of a hand-written note. It takes maybe a minute more to slap on a stamp and address a card rather than write an email, but I’ve read enough advice columns to know that even brides often feel they don’t have the time to write thank-you notes. (A note to said women: I remember every one of you, and what I gave to you, as does my mother. We forgive, but we never forget).

People remember when you write a note, especially when it’s to give sympathy or thanks. If you’re a manager, you’d likely be surprised at how long your employees hold onto hand-written notes. Text messages, verbal praise and emails all diminish over time, lost to memory or buried within an inbox. Paper sticks around. I have a card laminated from a young girl who wrote me in 2003, back in my early newspaper days. I had written a brief story about her search for five-leaf clovers, and how she had hoped it would bring her family luck since her father had lost his job. She taped some of the clovers to the note and wished me good luck. That note has hung on my office wall at four different jobs, including this one. 

Should you verbally thank long-term care employees on a regular basis? Of course. Should you occasionally offer accolades in an email where you cc’ superiors, especially after a major accomplishment? Of course.

But as 2012 begins, I urge you to think about buying a pad of stationary and some stamps.