Wednesday, January 30, 2013
A Perfect Word for Every Occasion by Liz Duckworth
Personal communication is perhaps one of the areas most greatly affected by technology over the last 10 years. Emails, facebook, twitter, texts, instagrams, and skype have all but replaced traditional phone calls, letter writing, and sadly, too often, face to face communication. As with all cultural changes, tradition tries hard to hold on, and there are some rough spots as one way of doing things is replaced by another.
We are in that limbo time in determining the appropriateness of sending condolences, congratulations, announcements and such. Many still believe that handwritten messages supersede any electronic format, but sadly too many of us really don't know how to write a simple personal note, especially if we did to say something significant. Liz Duckworth has tackled that problem with her new book A Perfect Word for Every Occasion. She covers writing words of grieving (always a hard one for me), words of gratitude, words for the sick and suffering, words for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and other celebrations, and more. Each chapter gives starting points for writing your own thoughts, then also suggests some famous quotations and Bible verses. She rounds out chapters identifying some wrong turns we can make which she calls Aunt Me-Me's mistakes.
I like Duckworth's opinion that we should be attempting to convey "grace-filled" words. And I do cherish hand written notes. I've gotten a few from co-workers and students over the years. Our daughter and her husband-to-be wrote us a letter from an engagement retreat they attended, and I still tear up reading it after 10 years. And those precious notes from the grandchildren surpass everything, except perhaps the love letters I got from my husband as we dated. Sadly, I fear too many people never receive such correspondence or send it. Like Duckworth, I am not sure a twenty word message on an electronic wall will ever replace the effort and meaning behind a hand written note, but I believe it is becoming fully accepted.
As a former English teacher, I am saddened knowing people are uncomfortable writing and sending their thoughts, but I fully understand the struggles we can all have in deciding what is the right thing to say, especially to someone who is grieving or struggling. A Perfect Word for Every Occasion is a good resource and will help writers focus their thoughts.