Today, email and text messages make it quick and easy to communicate with our friends and family. Dash off a few lines and hit ‘send’. Whew! Took care of that! What about the low-tech, high-touch version of communicating with a letter you wrote by hand? Can you remember the last time you actually bought stamps (outside of Christmas cards)?
January 9-15, 2022 is designated Universal Letter Writing Week, and January 23 holds National Handwriting Day. On one level, these dates seem like a celebration of something outdated and time-consuming but how many times do you rush to open a bill or catalog? Never, right? How about that handwritten envelope tucked among the junk mail? Almost like finding a treasure!
Challenge yourself this week to write a letter, or even one for each day of the week. Write a letter to a relative, a teacher who helped you along the way, a friend whose heart you hold dear. Write a letter and tear it up. Write a letter to yourself. A letter to your spouse or children or parent. Maybe someone close to you was recently diagnosed with a terrible illness. They would appreciate some good news! Or maybe a dear friend is dealing with the death of someone they loved dearly and verbal communication is tough right now.
Letter writing can be a special legacy project for someone who is facing death. These letters will be treasured for years to come. I had the honor of writing letters for someone who wanted to say a few final words to his loved ones. Carew Papritz wrote an amazing little book, The Legacy Letters. This book was written as fiction from the voice of a husband and father to his wife and children, but served well as non-fiction too. Quite a gift, filled with advice and deep love!
I saved a few handwritten notes from friends, and it is like a warm hug when I find them tucked away in a book, or my planner (yes, I still have a paper planner!). It’s not that I haven’t received heart-felt emails in the past; the handwritten notes are always so special!
You don’t need to have beautiful penmanship (we didn’t all have Miss Mitchell for 7th grade English!). It truly IS the thought that counts! No need to worry about spelling. I doubt anyone will send your note back with red pencil corrections (again, Miss Mitchell!).
Take some time to write, by hand, a note to someone. Someone who is homebound due to illness or debility would love to open the mailbox and find an envelope that isn’t sent from a business. Start a letter-writing campaign for someone you know who could use some cheering up. A friend once posted a request for cards to be sent to her mom after she was diagnosed with Alzheimers. She loved the stamps and the outpouring of cards and letters delighted her! The USPS creates great commemorative stamps – I have Sally Ride, Elvis, First Responders….and of course our flag and flowers. A basic stamp is 58 cents right now and a postcard stamp is 40 cents to take your missive from one coast to the other!
Find some lovely stationery, or grab a sticky note. Maybe you prefer fountain pens over ball-point pens. A pencil, marker, or crayon will do the trick. The idea is to let someone know you are thinking of them and took the time to share your thoughts with them.
Here are a few resources to get you started: The Legacy Letters by Carew Papritz, The Gift of a Letter by Alexandra Stoddard, The Pleasures of Staying Touch by Jennifer Williams.