Twenty years ago, I used to watch for the mailman every day. My excitement was due to an anticipated letter from a pen pal. We would send each other short notes full of bubbly hand-written fonts and crayon drawn flowers. As I got older, my grandfather and I would exchange letters in much the same way sans the crayons. We wrote about daily goings on and inquired after each others’ health. He lived over 500 miles away and visiting just wasn’t possible.
As the Internet has become more popular and, with it, lightning fast ways of communicating became available, my desire to pen a letter faded. What was the point really? By the time I formulated my thoughts, wrote the message, and mailed it via the USPS, I was likely to have already spoken with the person. Written correspondence appeared to be a waste of my time.
As a result of this technology, the art of letter writing is dying. Typing reports and emails are the common way in which we document words. Most people chit chat via text message on the supercomputers we arm ourselves with. Are we losing the ability to write? Is it possible that we are unable to pen a few paragraphs to someone else?
Accordingly, penning a letter requires a special kind of creativity. It’s a one-sided conversation. One in which a person enlightens their reader on life events and concerns while asking questions about the receiver’s family and interests. When the receiver replies, they are able to answer those inquiries in another one-sided conversation and the circle continues to turn. Exchanging letters with another person requires patience because instant gratification isn’t possible.
Have you ever received an unexpected note from a friend in your mailbox? Perhaps it was a cute card on your birthday or a handwritten note of encouragement just to check in with you. Were you surprised and delighted? While text messages and emails are exciting to receive, there is something special about receiving a letter.
Just recently, I stumbled upon a letter I wrote to my grandfather 12 years ago. I found it buried in a box of old photos my mother gave to me from his belongings after he passed away. Reading the words I wrote reminded me why I used to love letters. It’s one more way to show another person how much they mean to you.
A few months ago, I became acquainted with a new friend through Facebook. We live a couple of hours away from each other and I wanted to surprise her so I decided to write her a letter. I found my collection of note cards and began to pen my thoughts. I haven’t written for that length of time in quite a while and when I finished, my hand actually ached from lack of use in that way. When she received the letter, the happiness on her face during our next online call was so worth it.
Maybe it’s time for us to start a new trend. Instead of watching that television show, grab a piece of paper or a note card and write a letter. You could write a letter to your spouse or your parent or your best friend or someone you haven’t seen in a while. Use the letter to talk about your life and catch up. It’s a gamble whether you will receive a response, but I promise that you are unlikely to ever get one if you don’t write.
Let’s make penning a letter trendy and put a smile on the face of the person who receives it. Even if you see them everyday, receiving something in the mail that isn’t a bill will put a beautiful smile on their face. Who will you write to today?