I am always happy to open my email and find a message from my husband, a friend, child, sister or niece. I check Instagram and Facebook several times a day hoping for pictures of my beloved grandchildren or updates on the status of friends or family.
But for me, there is nothing like going to my mailbox and finding some actual snail mail among the flyers, magazines, bills and other assorted “junk” mail. Festive birthday cards, Christmas and other holiday cards are wonderful, but perhaps most precious are the letters or cards for no reason other than to give unexpected pleasure or simply stay in touch. Someone has taken the time to sit down and put pen to paper and write to me! In an email you can simply backspace if you change your mind about something you’ve written and type it again. Not true in a letter. A bit like pentimento in a painting, I enjoy seeing the words or thoughts scratched out and replaced in a letter.
When I am lucky enough to find a special letter in my daily mail, I vacillate between ripping it open and devouring it or setting it aside until I can sit and enjoy it slowly, pouring over every line. You can read and reread. Sometimes years later. About a year ago I was going through some files looking for something and I discovered an old letter from my beautiful Aunt Ruby that brought tears to my eyes. In it she told me what a highlight I had been in her life. It’s a good letter to read if you’ve had a bad day. That letter inspired me to write letters to women in my life who have had a profound effect on me. It was a great exercise in reminding myself of how many wonderful people I have in my life.
I have letters Mr. Smith wrote to me forty years ago. I have notes written to me by my children from their grade school days and beyond. I have significant letters and countless cards I’ve received through the years. Little snippets of life that bring back memories and fill my heart.
Author, Elizabeth Kostova, said:
“It’s funny; in this era of e-mail and voice mail and all those things that even I did not grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy.”
Receiving an envelope in the mail hand addressed to me is a marvelously charming event. It has the same effect on me that seeing an old black dial-up phone in a movie has, except the phones are even more nostalgic as I know we aren’t going back there! Pretty much anyone can put pen to paper, address the envelope, and stick on a stamp. I see a trip to the store to purchase some new writing paper and a special new pen in my near future as I challenge myself to pay it forward and indulge in a bit of civility in this crazy world and send some snail mail.
C’est la vie…