Learning When to Hold On and When to Let Go

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve collected cards. Important, sentimental, sweet notes from loved ones. By the time I was old enough to read I had a shoebox full of handwritten, hallmark-stamped love. I had notes from great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, family friends. I had notes from my grandparents when they were together. I had notes from my grandparents when they were separated. I had notes from my grandparents when they were remarried.

The inky signatures are a map. They loop and scribble out tales of life, love, change, heartbreak, and growth. They show me where I’ve come from; they show me where I’m going.


Then there are the signatures of the lost: those who have passed on, those who have moved on. Those who have served their purpose and forever changed me.Image

So, you can see, these physical mementos, these cards, they mean a lot to me.

They meant a lot.


They were a reminder to an eighteen year old that her grandmother loved her once. Back before cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart attacks, and death were words understood too well. They were cards that I kept to carry on a tradition. They were notes from cute boys in middle school, high school, and treasured words put down on paper to connect.Image

They were tangible, sweet reminders.Image

They were also taking up a lot of space. Space in my guest room and space in my heart.

For our wedding day, I pulled out these sweet, lovely cards and read them out loud. I read each sweet word, and then slowly cut out the words with scissors, wiping my tears away. Our wedding day was gorgeous, warm, and filled with love. Each guest was selected to bring joy to the event. Of course, some invites got lost in translation. My great-grandfather, my grandmother, my grandparents all could not be there on that day. So instead, to celebrate the tradition of card-giving, I made a special box for incoming hallmark-stamped love notes.SWP_0023


I took pages from my favorite books, signatures, letters, and pictures. I filled that box with twenty-seven years worth of love, laughter, and- yes- tears. That box stood proudly at attention, accepting all of the love for us on that special day. Expanding our circle, making our family larger, connecting each of us in a new and special way. Connecting us to what was and what will be.


After I made the box, I realized that it was time to let the other cards go. To clear some space. To make some room.

So I let them go. I scanned some of them into Evernote, one card at a time, and then put the hard copy in the trash. Some, the ones that had served their purpose, I felt gratitude for their purpose and then let go.

I’m grateful for the people. I’m grateful for the love. I’m grateful that I still have the memories. I’m grateful for the space.

Here’s the thing. I love words. I’m a writer, a language pathologist, and a reader. If you want to communicate with me, words are the perfect medium. I feel them as I transcribe letters into sounds and sounds into words in my head. So, I still like to get notes. I just have some new ideas about how.


Reading a love letter from Bill before I met him at the altar!

(1) Love Notes- This Valentine’s Day I got Bill a notebook where we can write little notes to one another. We take turns hiding it somewhere to be found unexpectedly. It has been a sweet way for us to write down how we feel, and hopefully someday the book will be filled with dated love-notes logging our journey as a couple.


A love note from Bill during our first winter together.

(2) Cards- I love to get cards. I cherish every thank you note and wedding invitation I get. I hang them on our fridge as long as I can and then I choose whether to let them go or to scan them to Evernote. Not every note makes it into Evernote, but many do!

What do you do with your gift cards? Do you keep them? Let me know below!

Sign up for Evernote here!


4 thoughts on “Learning When to Hold On and When to Let Go

  1. jenncalabro says:

    I love this!! I am also a person who holds onto cards and I know how hard it is to let go of them. I love your suggestion to scan them! xoxo


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