Have you received a letter in the mail lately? No, not a bill or one from those folks so intently concerned about your automobile’s extended warranty. I’m referring to a friendly letter from an old pal or distant family member. Even in adulthood, we can still receive great excitement from finding a fresh envelope awaiting us in our mailbox. I think it’s not only the reconnecting with lost acquaintances which brings about the excitement, but more importantly it’s the idea that someone took the time to write out a letter or card in longhand, address the envelope, seal it, stamp it, and deliver it to the post office or their mailbox. It makes us feel special that we warranted such effort, and hopefully we put forward the same effort in reciprocation.
In a world of text messages, e-mails, and Facebook, even a phone call can seem dreadfully outdated; however, I assure you a handwritten note will never lose its charm or sentiment. So, if you haven’t received a letter recently, I put pen to paper today to send this one to you, dear reader, in the hope it will spark you to do the same. You need no fancy writing instrument, no fine monogrammed stationery, nor even an organized address book, though once the letter-writing bug strikes, you may decide to acquire a few of those accoutrements. You’ll find yourself renewing friendships and strengthening existing ones in no time, all through letters.
Then branch out and allow your outbox to take many different forms. Notecards and letters are of course a staple, but many more options abound. Gift shops around the globe still sell postcards and you may find yourself collecting those to send as well (and as an added bonus, a postcard stamp is only 35 cents…hurry now!). Let your pen glide across Christmas cards this season (yes, they do still exist), and send warm holiday greetings, personalized to each recipient. And don’t stop at Christmas; birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebratory occasions make wonderful opportunities for a kind word or two as well.
On the off-chance you have no one to write, may I suggest www.operationgratitude.com, a website which will offer you instructions and support in writing to veterans and active military personnel. Love for the Elderly (www.lovefortheelderly.com) is another group which collects cards and letters for those in nursing homes, senior centers and assisted living facilities. There are countless other opportunities for you to bring a smile to the faces of your fellow man with a few simple words and moments of your time.
I hope you’ll take my advice and bring the old address book out of the mothballs (perhaps verify addresses if it’s been over 10 years!). Show someone you care and enjoy the anxious expectation of receiving a note in return in your mailbox. I’ve written to you, now it’s time for you to get to work!
P.S.—Don’t forget the stamp!