Tuesday, January 15th, 2013...9:50 pm
You’ve Got Snail
I carried my snail mail around with me for a while and then participated in the ironic act of sending a text message to thank my friend for the gift. Because that’s what letters are really – the gift of words.
I used to write letters. Somewhere, stuck in the pages of the photo album my grandmother kept, are the letters I wrote to her and my grandfather. With a not so steady pencil and Hello Kitty stationary, I penned letters of thanks, letters of news, letters of questions to my grandparents who lived about four hours away. My grandmother saved them. She must have seen them as gifts as well.
I had various pen pals, wrote to friends who had moved away. I wrote letters to family, sent cards in the mail at times other than Christmas.
I don’t write letters anymore.
I write emails. Does that count? They are as long as letters – sometimes longer. They are personal. They are to my closest friends who live hours away. Who also have young children of their own and therefore know the relative impossibility of a phone conversation. But they are electronic, and, I suspect that makes them feel less special, less like I took time with pen and paper to think only of them.
We don’t write letters, but I still know my oldest friends’ handwriting by heart. A note floated out from a book the other day and without reading even one word, I knew who had written it. It was a tiny note a good friend had stuck into a good book when she sent it to me. And there, in the pages of the book, was the familiar script, lurking there to remind me of an old friend.
There’s an art to good letter writing. There’s the intense personal side to it coupled with the interest in reciprocity, the knowledge that this letter writing business should be a two way street.
Most days it is junk that finds its way into our mail slot. Coupons and advertisements, catalogs and credit card offers. I pick it up, flip through it and quickly deposit most of it in the trash.
But today, when my name peered back at me in familiar handwriting on an envelope, I understood why my friend has declared this the Year of the Letter.
I showed my letter to Nora, explained what a letter is and why they make us feel happy.
“Do you want to write a letter?” I asked.
“Sure,” she agreed, somewhat enthusiastically.
I went to the closet and got down my bin of paper – looking in it for cards or stationary to use. On the small white cards I found, Nora drew pictures, and then we sat down to write.
Nora dictated and I recorded. She signed her name. I showed her how to lick the envolope, explained what an address is, let her affix her very first stamp.
Words are gifts. I remember that.
Tonight I’m thankful for the reminder that sometimes a handwritten note makes the gift even more precious.
Let’s join my friend in making 2013 The Year of The Letter.
What if we all sat down with pen and paper and wrote a good friend a letter? And then they wrote back? Or to someone else?
How many gifts of words can we send this year?
Join me in writing letters, in sending thoughtful words to people who deserve them.