I still have a card my dying grandmother sent me when I was 8 or 9 years old. It doesn’t say much, just that she loves me, but I treasure the knowledge that even in her pain, she cared enough to send me a letter.
I don’t know about you, but I still get a thrill when I receive a personal letter or card in the mail. It tells me that the writer cares about me as a person, that I am important enough to them that they took the time to write and post something, not just dash off a text or email. It’s something I can keep and read again, if I choose. Besides that card from my grandmother, I’ve kept love letters from my husband, some of the cards my daughter has made for me over the years, letters from my parents.
Letters are, according to author Mary Robinette Kowal, “both lasting and ephemeral.” They are also intimate, written for an audience of one or perhaps two. While I’m no Luddite (I’m all for the quick communication that phones, texts, and email make possible), there’s something very special and almost timeless about a letter or a card. They’re more thoughtful, perhaps because they’re written by hand, so it’s much harder to change your phrasing after the fact.
A few years ago, Kowal started the Month of Letters Challenge after she took a month off from the Internet. It’s a way to recapture a more leisurely sense of time along with the intimacy and thoughtfulness that comes from writing for an audience of one. I only found out about the challenge today, but I plan to jump in for the rest of the month. I’ve already got today’s card ready — a note to our daughter at college.
Here’s how it works: During the month of February, commit to mailing something – a letter, a note, a postcard, a newspaper clipping, a birthday card, even a feather or a fabric swatch – on every day that the Post Office is open. (That’s 23 days, not counting Sundays and a federal holiday.) And commit to writing back to everyone who writes to you. (That can count as one of your mailed items.) Go to the lettermo website if you’d like to sign up.
Let’s make it a Month of Letters.
|Photo © Peter Milosevic. (Used under CC BY-SA 3.0 license)|