There’s something almost romantic about sitting down at a desk with a lovely sheet or two of stationary and writing to someone. For me it brings up the image of a genteel young lady of the Regency period seated at a writing desk in the corner of a parlor, pen and ink at hand. Yes, I’m a Jane Austen fan.
Early in my marriage I wrote letters often. Both of David’s grandmothers lived in California while we were in Oklahoma. I wrote to them every month or two and they both told me how much they loved my letters. It wasn’t so much that my letters were anything special but that I was virtually the only person who wrote them.
At one point my grandfather in California started a correspondence with me in which we each wrote a few lines of poetry. Sadly, he died before we got very far with this but I treasure the few letters we did share.
When our first child was born I began writing monthly letters to David’s mom keeping her updated on Chris and his latest developments, along with a few snapshots. This all sounds so quaint in our current era of text messages and digital photos shared on Facebook and Instagram.
I’ve written here before about thank you notes and the fact I still believe in sending handwritten expressions of gratitude. And I’m certainly not the only one who still does that. But far fewer write actual letters these days. When was the last time you received an honest-to-goodness letter from a friend? I remember distinctly because it’s such a rare thing these days. But does it have to be that way? A handwritten letter amidst all the usual bills and junk mail feels like a true gift, hence the title of this blog post – “The Gift of a Letter”. I took the title from Alexandra Stoddard’s book by the same name.
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The other day I read about something called InCoWriMo:
InCoWriMo is the short name for International Correspondence Writing Month, otherwise known as February.
With an obvious nod to NaNoWriMo for the inspiration, InCoWriMo challenges you to hand-write and mail/deliver one letter, card, note or postcard every day during the month of February.
I was immediately taken with the idea and decided to participate. I could just write to friends and family and I may do some of that, too. But I thought it would be fun to write to YOU, my readers.
So here’s how this works. If you would like to receive a handwritten letter from me, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “InCoWriMo” in the subject line so your email doesn’t get swallowed up in the great abyss which is the current state of my inbox. In the email include your full name, mailing address and a few things about yourself. If you are one of the first 28 to respond to this, you will receive a letter. A couple of you might even receive a small package. This is open to my international readers, too.
And that’s it. If you’d like to send me a letter in return I would LOVE that but it’s not required. This is my gift to you.
For more information about letter writing, check out these resources I found for you…
“While email and texts have become the standard form of written communication in today’s fast-paced, digital world, there’s still a place for old-fashioned, snail mail letters.”
Three years ago, novelist Jon McGregor invited strangers to send him a letter in the post. Scribbled notes and love letters are still landing on the doormat…
“The fact that letters and letter writing have played an enormous role in American history is entirely unsurprising. America is a country of immigrants, leaving loved ones behind in the search for a better life, a country of pioneers, setting out for open land despite the appeal of home and familiarity, a vast country, stretching nearly 3,000 miles from coast to coast. Communication across the distance that separates friends and families has always been a necessary part of life in America, and despite modern developments in technology, letter writing has continued to occupy a large part of that communication.”
“At the outbreak of the Civil War, the U.S. Post Office Department had been delivering about five letters per capita annually. During the war, the average soldier sent more than five times that many. People who felt little capable of long, expressive narratives about their mental and physical well-being proved all the more resourceful in approximating bodily presence. For Americans during the Civil War, embracing loved ones on paper was a hardship they could only with difficulty overcome. Most of them, no doubt, would have rather not had to resort to it. For us, their efforts created a record of something we rarely get to see: glimmers of the emotional lives of ordinary people long gone.”
“Write_On is a mission driven campaign to promote joy, creativity, expression, and connection through hand-written correspondence. Inspired by Egg Press founder Tess Darrow, the Write_On Challenge launched in 2014 with the entire staff of Egg Press and Hello!Lucky, our friends, our families, and our fans writing 30 letters in 30 days during April, National Letterwriting Month.”
- In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
- Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.
April is National Card and Letter Writing Month so if you’d like to do something like this but need more time to prepare, you’ve got another chance.
The lost art of letter-writing:
Books about letter writing:
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