My obsession with hiding little notes started when, as children, my sister and I would spend summers at my grandparents’ house in Florida. Spending lazy days walking the beach, reading, watching MTV (a luxury we didn’t have in my small hometown), and generally being spoiled by my grandparents were blessings I was able to recognize even as a child. “How cool is this?” I’d whisper to my sister as my Grandma let us do her makeup and my (nearly bald) Grandpa let us “fix” his hair. And our parents had raised us right – we definitely said, “Thank you” when appropriate. But I wanted to do more, something really special that would make my grandparents smile the whole year, even when we went back home to Colorado.
So, my sister and I came up with the idea of hiding little notes all over their condo. Slips of paper with little tidbits of love written on them. Things like, “Someone in Colorado loves you” or “HUG” written in our finest penmanship filled dozens of little papers. Then, when our grandparents were in another room, we’d tuck the notes away in obvious and obscure places: between plates in the cupboard, in winter coat pockets, in the toes of dress shoes, inside medicine bottles, and inside books. We wanted to be sure that the notes wouldn’t be lost, but still wanted them to be discovered over the 10 months we were back home.
And it worked. It REALLY worked. Whenever my grandparents would find a note, they’d call us and tell us where they found it. We’d giggle and give them hints where they’d find more. In the days before email and texting, it was a very special event to get a quick written message from someone far away. And even better than digital writing, the slip of paper was something they could hold onto, could collect to revisit when lonely or sad.
I continued this when I left home to go to college. I left notes sprinkled around the house to say hi to my parents (or to long-distance tease my sister). And sometimes, my mom left notes for me, too, inside care packages and suitcases. When I found one, it was like a warm hug from my family. And now, whenever I stay at a friend’s house, I try to leave a few little notes here and there. I especially enjoy hiding them in places that aren’t usually fun (in the dryer sheet box, at the bottom of the kitchen towel drawer, under the toothbrush holder in the bathroom). And it works every time. People find the notes and call (or, these days, snap a pic and text me). And boom! Just like that, we know we are thinking of each other, that we are important to someone and someone is important to us. Powerful stuff.
I’ve left notes on the napkins of my kids’ lunches. For a while, they preferred for me to write a joke on the napkin that they could share at lunch (a great ice breaker for quiet kids). My kids leave notes for their grandparents and cousins when we visit. And even now, I’ve been known to tuck notes into my teen’s car, my husband’s wallet, and my son’s backpack. Nothing embarrassing, just a little note to say, “Hey! Have a great day!”. They don’t often tell me when they find my notes, but I know they see them. And that’s enough for me.