Thursday, November 10, 2016

My mom taught me the importance of thank you notes

So I decided to send one to Hillary Clinton.  If you want to too, here's a link to her PO box.

Here's my note (which I typed and printed and stuffed into a card because my handwriting is the pits and I had a lot to say):

Dear Hillary Clinton,

Thank you so much for devoting your life to serving this country and for serving as a role model and feminist pioneer for all us.  America needs your strong voice and clear message of hope and strength even if not all of us realize it.  Voting for you on Tuesday was the most historic thing I’ve ever done, and I thank you sincerely for giving me and millions of other women the opportunity to cast a ballot in a presidential election for someone who looks like us.

This was third time I voted for you, but the first time I cried while I was doing it.  I stood sniffling over my ballot, filling in the bubble next to your name while my three year-old daughter, Dorothy, played with the hem of my (long, suffrage-white) skirt.  She was a little disappointed that we weren’t in a canoe because she thought I said we were going to boat, but she and her three older brothers and their dad knew how excited I was to vote for you, and we were some of the first people in line at the polls in Madison, WI, our little liberal corner of the Rust Belt. It was hard for my children to appreciate the significance of the moment because these are kids who have grown up in a college town with professor parents where feminism is in the water. The boys have never really considered that their sister maybe couldn’t also grow up to be the leader of the free world—and that’s because of you, because of the way you have remade our political world.

Thank you, too, for your giving me the words to talk about the election results with my children on Wednesday morning.  I wasn’t sure what to tell them, so I thought of you, the way you spoke of yourself as a mother and a grandmother and promised to do the hard work of caring for our best interests.  I told my solemn-eyed sons that your opponent is a father and a grandfather who loves his own children very much and wants the best for our country even if he has different ideas of what the best means.  My words felt hollow because I didn’t believe them, but once again you came to my rescue with a speech I could show my kids after school so they could understand the beauty and the heartbreak of democracy.

I watched your speech alone in my bedroom, my wet hair wrapped in a towel, my face swollen from crying.  I thought of my fierce, brilliant students who volunteered for your campaign and mask the Apple logos on their laptops with your stickers.  I thought of my daughter who trusts that she can be a princess-president-doctor, my Our Bodies, Ourselves-carrying, second-wave-feminist mother, my grandmother recovering from a stroke in an Iowa nursing home who proudly cast an early ballot for you. I panicked a little when your speech drew to a close because I didn’t want to imagine an America without your voice and your vision for our future.

Thank you for being a feminist icon for the ages, for giving yourself to us and to our causes, and for modeling for our children and for us how to be a courageous and gracious leader.  It was an honor to vote for you, and our country’s first woman president will someday stand on your shoulders when she finally shatters that ceiling you have very nearly demolished.


  1. Erin C. Smith4:27 PM

    This is beautiful Sarah. Thank you.

  2. My mom taught me the same and I've been writing my thank you note to her in my head all day. Yours is beautifully done.

  3. I emailed her a thank you note today. I cried writing it and cried reading yours just now. May there be better days ahead.

  4. Anonymous10:48 PM

    My hand is killing me, but I wrote her one by hand. (I used to be able to write pages and pages in college, which apparently was eons ago given that my hand looks like a claw now.)

    Thank you for sharing the address and the idea -- I've been so sad and anxious and it felt good to thank her and share the seeds of thought she's planted in my daughter.

  5. This is beautiful and now I'm crying all over again.

  6. Anonymous6:30 AM

    Oh, I love this. I have thought about writing thank you letters or letters of support to those in power at a time of need (I thought about writing one to Obama at one point). But you actually did, and posted a PO box to actually do it! Thank you.

  7. I love that you did this, that you wrote a thank you letter. Oof, over a week later, and I'm still periodically decimated thinking about this election, and what could have been. Like you, I've voted for Hillary three times now, and I really thought this one was it - the big winner. I am so sad to let this go. Onward, right?

  8. I'm visiting your blog to see what books I've missed out on recently and stumbled upon this. And here I sit, crying my face off, again, imagining how this world could have been different.