Routinely there will arrive by mail the stunted envelope shape announcing, "I am the thank you card!" Even though most of them contain an atrocious scrawl with a rote statement, "Thank you for your generous gift and may we always share in simchas," it is the occasional one that gushes in detail that touches the heart.
"Baby Avrohom Zev loves his new teddy! He sleeps with it every night. Thank you so much!"
It was with a jolt when the thank-you card from a bar mitvah boy contained not the cramped, laborious efforts of a grateful 13-year-old, but bland, pre-printed words. Yeesh, how touching.
The thank-you card, I always believed, was a rite of passage, as much as that oversized black fedora the new little men are so eager to don. With privilege comes responsibility; get a present, you have to sit down and tediously express thanks.
Of course, as the tapped word overcomes the written word, composing a mannerly missive is in a state of flux, as Guy Trebay observes in "The Found Art of Thank-You Notes." But there are still some who wave the snail-mail flag with one hand and a Papermate in the other.
Additionally, handwriting, as recently reported in the Science Times, has import beyond good behavior. Maria Konnikova reports in "What's Lost as Handwriting Fades" that writing by hand, as opposed to by keyboard or keypad, activates the learning process.
When I attend shiurim, I insist on toting along a notebook and penning down the speaker's thoughts, as then I truly hear and remember. It's not the same when typing, since then I focus on simply getting out each word, rather than the concept as a coherent whole.
To all the parents out there, make sure to emphasize old-school writing. It guarantees good learning skills and good manners.