I’ve always loved writing letters … and everything that goes along with letter writing, like stamps, return address labels, sealing wax, stationery and pens. Perhaps all things postal are in my genes. Postmen (and they all were men) span many generations on the Post side of my family, as far back as the 1600s.
Even as a teenager I started building a collection of letter writing resources. This was before email and cell phones created inexpensive and quick ways to communicate with family and friends. Back then letter writing was far more affordable than long distance phone calls. Over the years I succumbed to one beautiful set of stationery after another, boxed cards, individual cards, handmade cards, you name it.
I might as well also confess to my love of postage stamps. I try to match my stamp selection for a given letter to both the stationery and the recipient. There. I’ve said it. I never buy flag stamps on a roll as my husband does. Instead, I find it necessary to keep a wide selection of stamps on hand so I can have the perfect match. Over time, this has led to quite a collection of stamps.
Letter writing does seem to be a lost art in the era of texting, email and social media, doesn’t it?
April is National Letter Writing Month, an annual celebration of handwritten correspondence created by the United States Postal Service in 2001. (I’ve seen January and February also noted for this honor.)
Letter writing does seem to be a lost art in the era of texting, email and social media, doesn’t it? For that very reason, receiving a handwritten letter or note is quite special, like receiving a gift. The USPS has joined with Scholastic to teach letter writing skills to third and fourth graders.
The curriculum includes learning to write letters of encouragement, admiration, celebration, gratitude and letters across the distance. Treat those different types of letters as writing prompts.
Who in your life needs a letter of encouragement today? Have you told someone how much you admire the ministry in which they are engaged? Whose baptism can you celebrate? To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude? A woman who mentored you in the faith? And if those ideas aren’t enough, there are plenty of bloggers (like this one) who can offer up other letter writing ideas.
More than kisses
The English poet and Anglican cleric John Dunne wrote that “more than kisses, letters mingle souls.” It’s time to mingle some souls! Sit down and write that letter.
It may feel a bit awkward at first, touching pen to paper, using your whole hand not just your thumbs to text. Take it slow if your hand starts to cramp up. There’s the matter of licking an envelope. No big deal. Invest in some forever stamps so you can repeat this exercise somewhere in the future. (And now stamps featuring Mr. Rogers are available. How cool is that?)
Don’t expect an immediate response. It might take a week or more for your letter gift to arrive.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to pull out some stationery, match it up with the proper pen and stamp, and write a letter.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA.