I love finding handwritten letters in my mailbox. I know I’m not alone in this.
Given the prevalence of email, texting, phone communication, and online bill pay, though, it feels like my daily trip to fetch the mail makes me nothing more than a conduit from mailbox to recycling bin (do you hear me credit card companies? You’re wasting your paper and postage!). Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll find a movie or magazine to make the trip worth it.
I’ve decided I’m not going to give into this new reality easily. I am making it my life’s mission to help people reconnect with each other, and with themselves, through the handwritten word. I want to help save snail mail. I’m doing this because I know in my heart the following are true:
1. Letters forge a tangible, personal connection between two people. You both touch the same paper. You can open it like a gift, enjoy it over and over again, and hold on to it as a memento.
2. Writing and reading letters are great ways to unplug from our increasingly wired world.
3. You can share thoughts, feelings, and memories in letters that some would hesitate to do so via email or phone. A love letter spoken over the phone could sound hokey or trite, but written on nice paper in your best script can bring your lover to tears.
With these thoughts in mind, I made a birthday request this year—sent via email!—for friends and family to send me a handwritten note:
Dear friends and family,
As I walked to my mailbox today, I wondered–as I always do–if there would be any “fun” mail inside. Alas, nothing but Netflix movies and requests for me to purchase more magazines.
I realized that what I wanted most for my birthday was handwritten letters from friends and family, near and far. Will you please write me a letter, seal it in an envelope, buy a stamp and drop it in the mail? The letters can be short or long, funny or sad, in cursive or print, on gorgeous paper or on a napkin. Share what you’ve been doing, what you hope for the coming year, your biggest fear or regret, a story about your best memory, your thoughts about me, or German philosophy, or knitting, your kids, your pets, or crunchy vs. creamy peanut butter. As long as you share something of you with me, in your own handwriting, I’ll be happy.
Some of you will groan at this request, a few will happily take this on. I just wanted to let everyone know what I really wanted for my birthday…a bit more happiness in my mailbox.
I promise to return your kindness with a heartfelt, handwritten note of my own! I won’t expect that this will strike up a letter revolution right away, or expect you to write back again, but I hope it helps some of you rediscover the joy of sending and receiving letters.
Love and stuff,
Future posts will be devoted to the response I get to this little experiment, other mail-generating activities, and progress on my quest to help people reconnect with others, and themselves, through the power of the handwritten word.