About every two weeks, I pull out an over-sized shoe box. I open up my shoebox, and envelopes, compact disc cases, stationary and stamps fall around. This is my letter-writing box. Whenever I have a spare moment, I sit down and write to my friends away at school. Considering they are scattered around the country, I can sit down for about two hours writing each one a letter: full of inside jokes, drawings, and sometimes even adding a personalized mix CD. This process has become a hobby for me, and I love it. So why did other people stop sending letters? We all know that we still feel childlike excitement when we receive a magazine or birthday card in the mail. It’s nice to receive things the old-fashioned way, as opposed to logging online and seeing a little red box in the corner of our computer screen warning us that someone has communicated with us.
I personally long for a lengthy, sloppy, passionate letter. A love letter. A letter from a dear friend. The content of the letter can be anything; funny stories and personal anecdotes, with pictures in the columns. The handwriting can be terrible, barely scrawling the page, or in elegant cursive, filling twelve pages. A letter is probably one of the most unique things we can create; and yet it’s a dying art form. But why wouldn’t you want to brighten someone’s day in a unique way?
Letters are so much more permanent than a phone call or a Wall post. You can keep all your letters; you can rifle through them later and laugh back at things that you may not have remembered otherwise. And a letter never lacks personality. Not sure what to write about? Samara O’Shea, author of For the Love of Letters, explained it to me like this: “If it's an emotionally driven letter, your feelings will tell you what to say. Love letters, apology letters, and angry letters basically write themselves. If it's a correspondence letter, write about what you've been up to, what you're looking forward to this year, what you're nervous about, what you're working on (at work, school, home, etc.) You have more to say than you think. I promise. When you come to the end of the letter, don't forget to ask what your recipient has been up to.” This being said, anything can drive the passion needed to write a letter, even those letters that never get sent. And I think you know which ones I’m talking about.
It feels great to receive a letter, but it feels just as good to write one. I know I feel a degree of satisfaction after I’ve sealed and stamped my letter, and I’m standing in front of the blue box. It may be old fashioned and silly, but I smile when I drop the letter off. I like to picture the recipient’s face when they receive my message. So, surprise someone! Don’t warn them that they have a letter on the way. Send a sweet message, or just a Thinking of You card. Then wait for a response. It’s exciting and a romantic way to correspond. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can go out of the way to make someone’s day - -and you can hold that power in your own hands, just by writing someone a sincere letter.
*Samara O’Shea is author of “For the Love of Letters: A 21st Century Guide to the Art of Letter Writing.” Visit her website at www.letterlover.net for all your letter-writing desires.