Some letters are personal and meaningful, others are empty and cold. Some change lives, others change little. One way or the other, letters are important. They have the ability to connect us with anyone! Whether it be a complete stranger in another country or a loved one in another county. The conversation between man, paper, and pen is irreplaceable and is not something that should be forgotten or left behind in the Dark Ages.
Last year I went on social media and asked that anyone who wanted a letter from me send me their home address or P.O. box. The response was incredible! So many people responded! Some I’ve known for years, some I’d only just met. They all were so excited to receive a personalized letter from me. I’m not a celebrity or a rising star. I’m not even an influential local figure! I am just a person with a paper and a pen. I doodled, I rambled…. I had a ball creating my little pieces of art and literature!
The idea originated when I received a letter from my grandmother. It was just a simple envelope with a simple note alongside a few dollars. The money was certainly nice, but that letter was by far the most incredible thing that I had found in my mailbox in years, if not ever. It was real. Touched by human hands and done with care and love. It carried a message that could be repeated as many times as I was willing to read it over and over and over again, even when she could not say them herself. In those few words, everything I needed from my grandmother was expressed and felt and given. She gave me a gift, and I cherish it.
Not only did I receive my grandmother’s letter, but around this time I also started getting invitations regarding my brothers’ engagement parties, their fiancée’s bachelorette parties, their wedding invitations, the baby shower… not to mention ALL the ‘Thank You’ cards! Some of these were printed, some handwritten, but the gratitude and thoughtfulness expressed in them was felt and appreciated just the same. I held onto every single one because they had all touched me in different ways at different times in my life and their lives. They are a collection of special, beautiful moments.
Once my little project kicked off and I began writing my 50+ handwritten cards, I was so excited to see what I would come up with next. What memories were brought back to me, and if I had no specific memories with this person, what would come to mind? It was an experiment and an experience! How could I make each letter different and unique? How could I keep myself excited about this? How could I get my wrist used to writing so much!? Admittedly, I did find myself with writer’s block and an aching wrist by the time I got to 15 letters. I kept going, though! I had made a promise to them and to myself that I would reach out. Even if they had forgotten or blown off my promise, knowing that it meant something to them, that they would be excited to see that letter kept me pushing on.
I also forgave myself for days when I was less motivated. If all I could manage was a few sentences and a smiley face, that was fine. It’s not necessarily about the message, but the effort and thought. It wasn’t that I cared less over time, I simply found myself stuck. For some, my handwriting was very sloppy, but that’s normal.
Unfortunately, not everyone wrote me back or let me know how they felt about the letter. I like to think they were all received with joy. I know I did my part, and I felt good about it. On the other hand, many people did write back, and a couple continued to write back. Not to the point of being pen pals, but once every few months or on holidays I might receive a greeting. It’s not about reciprocation, though. Like everything in life, it’s about the joy of the experience; the good and the bad. In the end, it was worth it for the positive feedback and some photos I was sent on the holidays or invitations. It made me feel like part of their family, or at least a friend worth considering a friend, and not just a figure online or in someone’s cellular phonebook.
Even just a postcard from some far off country or state was really a thrill. It brought me into their life and their home, and I hope my letters gave them the same journey. Brief but bold. Short but stunning.
I think it’s time to start writing letters again!
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