For Jenna Bush Hager, it’s a gift her family has passed down through generations: Putting pen to paper and pouring out your heart.
The TODAY correspondent has previously shared the love letters of her beloved grandparents, who set the standard for such sweet notes.
Now Jenna is revealing a love letter she’s penned to her husband, Henry Hager, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
“Your love is like the Post-it note with stick figure drawings of ships passing you left for me on the bathroom mirror when I returned home late. I'd been flying most of the day and I was dehydrated, and thirsty for home, for you,” she said, sharing her note with classmates from a love letter workshop at the Changing Hands book store in Phoenix as part of this week's “Share Love TODAY” series.
“Your love is like that note. It is simple and solid and thoughtful."
As a young man, he wrote letters as part of his early courtship with the woman who would eventually become his bride. And their letters to each other took on deeper meaning once Bush was sent overseas with the Navy during World War II.
“Letters were everything,” the former president once recounted to Jenna. “You wait for mail call. A guy would come on the deck and say, ‘mail,’ and then, ‘Bush.’ It was wonderful.”
Jenna penned a love letter to both her grandmother, former first lady Barbara Bush, and her grandfather to say farewell after each passed away.
In her note to her husband, Henry, whom she married in 2008 at her parents' ranch outside Crawford, Texas, she describes how much she appreciates the affection they share for family.
“When I watch you come home to a quiet house, the girls tucked in, just to peek in their rooms, waking them, throwing them into the air until sleep is long gone. That you, too, miss being home.”
In an era of emoji-laden text messages, writing an old-fashioned love letter can put some weight to emotions floating inside our heads, said writing coach Amy Silverman.
“There is something so ephemeral to an email or a text that if you take the time to really think about it and literally put it down onto paper, we think that that just makes a difference,” she said.
Deborah Sussman, who leads a writing workshop with Silverman, said putting feelings down on paper can also help slow down time.
“We go through life so bombarded by things and so quickly that we forget to stop," she said. "And Valentine's Day is a lovely time to do that, but there are 365 days of the year, and it's really never a bad time to stop and say, ‘Thank you.’ There's something about a letter that's forever.”