I love social media. I really do. I love how it has connected (or reconnected) people all over the globe. I love that it has opened doors to new friendships, renewed old ones, and made our globe feel so, so much smaller.
A couple of months ago, I received a letter from one of my aunts. It was completely unexpected and out of the blue, unattached to any occasion or monumental event. It was just a letter filled with bits of news about her life and questions about and good wishes for mine. And it thrilled me to bits.
I grew up in the era before computers and smart phones and the hyper-connectivity the world has now. Long distance phone calls were outrageously expensive and reserved for special occasions, and so the only form of day-to-day communication was letter-writing. Letters were so important, in fact, that we were given entire lessons on how to write them in school: personal letters, business letters, persuasive letters, cover letters…the whole gamut. And woe betide the child who began their missive with “Dear _____, How are you? I am fine.” Because yes, we were graded on them.
Of course, any news contained in a letter was pretty much out of date by the time we received it, but honestly? That didn't matter. What did matter is that there was something in the mail that wasn't a bill or an advertisement or a political message. Sometimes it was on simple lined paper, sometimes on fancy stationery with a pretty envelope to accompany it, and always filled with time and care and an invitation to find a corner and sit for a few minutes to read it.
My aunt's letter reminded me of all that. As I sat in my reading chair with my cup of coffee and her letter, I could picture her sitting at her kitchen table to write it. She would have been peering down through her reading glasses, maybe with her own cup of coffee at her elbow, deciding what to write. She might have smiled as she told me her news, reliving events as she wrote them. She would have written out my name and address, added a stamp to the envelope, and then walked down the street to the mailbox. And she would have done all that just to say hello to me and let me know she was thinking of me.
Call it nostalgia, call it sentimentality, call it what you will…but there is something about that kind of care and attention that makes my heart swell. Plus, it really is exciting to find an actual letter in the mailbox along with all the other stuff we'd rather ignore. I can't help but want to spread those feelings, and so I have undertaken a mission to revive the fine art of the handwritten letter in my corner of the world.
Each weekday morning before I begin work, I spend a few minutes penning a page or two to someone in my life that I care about. At first, I used little note cards to keep it short because I was really rusty at this and couldn't think of anything to say. Now, I've graduated to pretty stationery with matching envelopes, because the words are becoming easier with each letter that I write. My longest to date has been five pages(!). I'm not expecting the recipients to reciprocate, but I hope they will…and even more, I hope they'll write to other people in their lives, too.
In the rushed world we live in today, this is my way of reclaiming a little time and space for myself. My way of reaching out into someone else's life to say “Hey, I was thinking about you today…grab a coffee and let's chat” even when they're thousands of miles away.
And definitely my way of bringing a smile to someone's face when they open their mailbox to find a pretty green envelope tucked into the less appealing demands for their attention.
So how about it? Isn't there someone in your life that you'd like to make smile? Join me, and we'll create our own little revolution!