Before I write this post, I have to tell you that I am biased about it, because there are few things I like more than getting a handwritten letter in the mail. I’m sure this pleasure if a rarity for most people these days, and I count myself very lucky that I can remember the last time I received such a gift, which was about two years ago.
In this age of ten-second tweets and texts, the slow intention of a physical note can be a real gem, and I was plain excited when my six year old finished drawing a picture and then asked to mail it to his cousin. I tried not to drop what I was doing to pull out an envelope.
My son is still working on his handwriting, and addressing the envelope – right down to making the letters small enough to fit – was work for him. But he kept at it and finished the task. I was delighted when he looked up, and asked to do more.
In the end, he drew four pictures and messages specifically for his cousins and a friend. He addressed four envelopes, stamped them, and was the one who dropped them in the post box.
A few days later, I got two emails from my siblings, both saying how they and their kids were touched by the letters. My sister-in-law said my brother brought the letters out at then end of a tiring and busy day, and it brought smiles to everyone. We got a lunch invitation out of it from my sister. Both families said the envelopes were kept, as that’s where so much of the effort of a burgeoning writer was found.
From this, I’ve determined that letter writing (or even mostly envelope writing, as the case was with us) is a wonderful way for children not just to practice their writing skills, but also to warm the hearts of the people around them. Maybe the slowness of making those painstakingly printed letters somehow slows something down in the reader. Whatever it is, something about it seems to feel good.
My son’s birthday is around the corner, and topping the gift list from me is a homemade letter writing kit. It will be a simple affair – a box with a lid, envelopes of different sizes, notepaper, writing utensils, and stamps – but the box will be infused with the special wish that lots of letters and love will flow out of it.