Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Simple Suggestion #95... Write letters to loved ones

Here's a suggestion I sort of made once before, and the comments on that moodling, Simple Pleasures... and Letters, told me that just the idea of letters makes people happy. So I'll run the risk of repeating myself, because I love letters, too!

In the late eighties, I participated in a travelling show for a year, and one of the tunes that was performed was basically a letter carrier's commentary on his work (before email and internet!), tinged with a bit of sadness:
Where are the love letters
that always mean so much
and the friendly little notes
they send to keep in touch?
They're not in my bag anymore...
I think a lot of us can relate as we open our mail day after day. The postal system used to be the way to keep in touch with loved ones, but now it's almost strictly business. Credit card applications, bills, charity fundraising letters, cable company offers... but wait, what's this? Could it be a real letter from a real person I know??! Be still, my beating heart! There's just something wonderful about receiving a handwritten snippet of someone else's life... knowing that they cared enough to sit with pen and paper and send a message with stamp. Or an email that isn't just a forwarded joke with hardly a personal word.

Writing a letter to a dear friend can be an exercise in storytelling, self-discovery, or sheer enjoyment. In my closet, on the top shelf with the extra bedsheets, sit two precious boxes of letters. My boxes hold something of a summary of my favourite friend's life. She has an identical set of boxes at her house that hold something of a summary of my life. Once, we got our boxes together, spread letters all over the floor, drank wine, and giggled at the girls we used to be. We've been writing to each other since we were nine years old, sometimes when we were in the same city, always with plenty of affection. Often, in my letters to her, I have been able to name a deep longing or a difficult emotion... or tell an embarrassing story on myself as an exercise in honesty and humility. Letters can be a form of confession and healing -- or they can be just plain silly fun. (I also have a little packet of love letters from my husband, but as I've said before, he's a private kind of guy, so that's as much as I'll say about that.)

The last letter I wrote happened in a rainy cafe when I had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. What a pleasure it was to sit and write just to share some time with a friend. And what a pleasure it was to receive a letter in return not two weeks later. A gift, in the form of a heartfelt letter!! Woo hoo!

Do you remember the last letter you wrote with pen, on paper? The last one you received? Somehow, those missives are more deeply considered, the words made to fit the moment more tightly than something composed on the fly at a keyboard. But keyboards are good, too, when the message is just right. So, today's suggestion is simply to write a letter, with pen, or keyboard, or whatever works for you. Then, put it into an envelope, stick on a stamp, and S.W.A.K. (seal with a kiss)! Or, hit send!

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.


  1. This reminded me of my favourite excerpt from a letter.
    To Robert Browning:

    And now listen to me in turn. You have touched me more profoundly than I thought even you could have touched me - my heart was full when you came here today. Henceforward I am yours for everything....

    - Elizabeth Barrett Browning
    Thanks for the post.

  2. That's a gorgeous quotation!


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