I miss my mother-in-law. On many days, I don’t think about it, but even more than a year later, I choke up when I talk about her.

I miss her when people compliment my Christmas tree, which is covered with perfect, gorgeous needlepoint ornaments she made. I miss her when I get compliments on beautiful jewelry that was hers and I get to tell them about her or share a story about a particular piece that I love. I miss her when I go to my in-law’s house, when I do the step videos that she gave me and I’m sweating and tripping over my feet and thinking, “I  hope you’re watching me and being proud of the effort, at least.” She did so many things with utter grace, elegance and perfectitude, and she made me strive to be the kind of beautiful, charming, thoughtful person she was.

And that’s why there’s one particular time when I miss her that makes me laugh. It’s every time that I need to write a thank you note. For those who did not know Virginia, thank you notes were at the very, very top of her list of Important Social Niceties. She was the best and most diligent thank you note writer I have ever known, and she is the person who embedded the importance of the thank you note into my brain. She would practically have her thank you note signed, sealed and in the mail by the time we left the house following any holiday or other celebration. So, anytime that I write a thank you note, I think of her and smile. And anytime that I have a backlog of thank you notes that need to be written (as I currently do), I also think of her with a little bit of guilt and, “Don’t worry, Virginia, I’m going to get that done soon!” in my heart.

It’s funny how something like that can make a big impression. I didn’t grow up writing thank you notes for everything, and I didn’t even have my own box of personalized stationery (which I’m addicted to now) until high school graduation. But, when I started dating Will, I was surprised to meet a boy who was so diligent about writing his notes, and then discovered that a well-written note was an EXCELLENT way to get on the “nice list” with the fam. And that made me start writing notes for everything.

Around the holiday season, there are plenty of notes to write. And that’s fine, because that means many times to think about and honor someone that I love so dearly. So, if I owe you a note for something, rest assured, they’re on my mind and it should be on its way to you soon! 

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