the heartfelt.

This letter has made the blog/facebook status/tweet circuit, but in case it slipped through the cracks for you, I’m posting it again. I think it’s so very touching, and little parts of it have stuck with me since reading.

John Steinbeck wrote this letter to his oldest son Thom after the boy wrote to tell his parents he was in love with a girl named Susan from his school. Steinbeck replied to his son that very same day with this beautiful letter. If only Grapes of Wrath/Of Mice and Men/East of Eden were as pleasant to read…

“New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First—if you are in love—that’s a good thing—that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second—There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply—of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it—and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone—there is no possible harm in saying so—only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.



This adjective grosses me out a bit, but the letter is so tender that it makes me teary. Apart from that last section, I think I most love his admiring references to his wife Elaine. He seems like the right kind of guy from whom to take love advice.

To read more  about the collection of Steinbeck letters, click here.



the grateful.

I think we are in the sweet spot of the thank you note practice. So few people write them that if you don’t get around to penning one, you’re in good company with the other negligent people. If you do write one, you’re the paragon of politeness, the champion of civility, the essence of etiquette (or maybe I feel a biiiit too inflated when I write one). Perhaps older generations disagree, but it seems like something where you’re given many bonus points if you do it and deducted nothing if you don’t.

Growing up, that was not the case. I remember the profound dread that filled me after each birthday and Christmas as I was given the list of various family members to whom I needed to send thank you notes. I pleaded for those awful fill-in-the-blank notes “Dear ____, Thank you for _____. It’s exactly what I wanted. Love, ____” to make the process less grueling. I have no idea why it was such a shuddersome endeavor, because really, a good, thoughtful note can be jotted down in under 5 minutes. For whatever reason though, looking at the long list of people (who had KINDLY, GENEROUSLY given me presents), was beyond depressing.

Leah Dieterich felt similar resistance towards writing thank you notes, but her mom encouraged her relentlessly, and she’s clearly a very good daughter because now she writes a thank you note every single day on her blog, THX THX THX. These notes don’t go to Uncle Sal or Great Aunt Elsie but rather to inanimate objects and abstract ideas.

Some examples:

THX THX THX has been so popular that Leah recently compiled all the notes and put them into a book that you can buy here. It’s nice to see someone who finds reasons to be grateful everywhere, and her site is a positive, creative place on the internet

*Also, as an additional layer, THX THX THX confirms #10 on the widely circulated and wildly accurate 15 Things White Girls Love to Do on Facebook.

(Images via THX THX THX)