Dear You, Sincerely Me
Especially now with smartphones and the internet, hand-writing letters has been in steady decline over the last few decades. But for hundreds of years, letter writing was the only way for people to communicate with each other when separated by distances. Today, we celebrate this practice of putting pen to paper. December 7 is National Letter Writing Day, and it’s a great excuse to get back to basics and write a letter to somebody special.
Letter writing is as old as written language. Since that time, people of ancient civilizations have used letters – written with different tools on a variety of surfaces – to communicate with each other. Archaeologists have unearthed letters written on wood, metal, ceramic, leather and fabric.
Correspondence is a great way to deliver first-hand accounts of the social, economic and political conditions, as well as educate others, spread beliefs, cultivate ideas and share stories. And many writers throughout history have elevated letter writing into a literary art form.
Letter writing really makes you think before you write, especially when doing it by hand. There’s no backspace or delete key, so unless you plan to crumple up wads of paper, it’s not easy to take back a thought once you’ve expressed it. Instead, you’re forced to be a bit reflective before you write. Not only is letter writing a great way to reconnect, it’s an opportunity to be open and vulnerable on paper.
So if you’re ready to jump in, here’s how to get started:
- Buy some gorgeous stationary.
Sure, you could just grab some paper out of your printer or rip a page out of a notebook. But if you’re going to do it right, start with nice paper. We suggest visiting a local stationary store where you can touch and feel all kinds of textures and weights available. If you’re feeling crafty, you can also make your own envelope.
- Write a letter
Who will you write to? Maybe you want to reconnect with an old friend or send some love to a family member. Whomever you correspond with, make sure to use your best handwriting and practice proper letter-writing guidelines that you learned back in elementary school with an appropriate salutation, all the way down to your signature at the end.
- Seal it up and send it off.
To really make an impression on your recipient, use a wax seal or take time to pick out a thoughtful stamp. Then visit your local Post Office to send it on its way.
If you’re unsure of who to write a letter too, here is some extra inspiration:
- A thank-you letter to a teacher or mentor who made a difference in your life.
- A letter of encouragement to a friend going through a difficult time.
- A letter of encouragement to someone in the military or in the hospital.
- A letter to yourself, either in the past or in the future.
- A note of praise to someone you admire but don’t know in real life.
- A thank you note to a local business who provides great service.
- A love letter to your significant other.