Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Gift of a Letter




A century ago, homes didn’t have telephones.  A half-century ago, many homes with telephones shared party lines.  Twenty-five years ago, the fledgling Internet was coming into being but was not yet widely used. Cellular phones are a recent arrival too, with most of their development occurring within the past twenty years. 

It’s hard for some people to imagine a time when we weren’t constantly available—connected through a web of technology that follows us everywhere—but there was actually a time when it was so.  There was a time when phones hung on the wall, and rang unanswered if the party you were calling wasn’t available.  There was a time when, if neighbours or friends wished to chat, they knocked on each other’s doors.  There was a time when letter writing was a commonplace form of social interaction.

With the advent of almost instantaneous communication, many people came to believe that the art and habit of personal letter writing would die out.  Certainly statistics would indicate that to be the case.  Post offices have experienced a sharp decline in letter mail.  Still, I cling to the hope that personal letter writing will continue on, perhaps not as a commonplace form of correspondence but more as a gift.

In a time when we are more inclined to send an email than a letter, taking the time to actually compose and mail a letter can show a loved one that you esteem them highly enough to give them the gift of your time. 

In a time when the post office pays its bills largely by delivering business correspondence and junk mail, opening your mailbox to find something other than bills or pizza flyers can be a real treat. 

In a time when many of us are challenged financially, the investment of a little time and the cost of a postage stamp makes a lot more sense than purchasing an expensive gift.

There’s no need to get all wrapped up in form.  All a letter really needs to do is say that you’re thinking of the recipient.  You can include some personal news if you want, or perhaps recall a shared memory.  You should let the recipient know who wrote the letter and it's nice to include the date on which it was written. 

You can write your letter in a card, in postcard form on the back of a photo, or on a plain piece of paper.  If you want to send a greeting card that can be gifted forward, you can write your letter on paper, enclose it in a blank card, and then enclose the card, its envelope, and your letter in a larger envelope.  If you include an explanation of your intent in sending the blank card and its envelope, perhaps the recipient will gift the card forward too.  You never know how many people might benefit from such a gesture.

Valentine’s Day provides a perfect opportunity to start building a letter-writing habit.  Write a letter and leave it for your sweetie.  Pop a note in the mail to your BFF.  Send a card to a family member, telling them how much you love them.  You may be surprised by how deeply this simple gesture touches those around you.
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Card designed and made by Beth Hayes using (light floral) paper from the dollar store, (dark pink floral)  paper from the Bohemia collection by "My Mind's Eye."  Bird image adapted from a rubber stamp by Stampin' Up.