Have you ever gotten a handwritten letter in the mail? Oh, I’m not talking about a card where Hallmark wrote the vast majority of the sentiment, printed it onto nice paper tucked behind a pretty picture and someone quickly scribbled their name on the bottom.
I’m talking about an actual, handwritten letter.
It may have been just a short note or it may have been 3 pages long. It may have been a post-it note or it may have been hand-created with a loving message inside.
A letter that someone had to sit down, take their time, and think through what they wanted to write to you. A letter that touched your heart not only by what it said but also because you know it must have taken time, energy, and effort for them to put pen to paper and write down their thoughts to you.
How did that make you feel? Did it make you feel special? Loved? Treasured? Like you matter enough for someone else to take this time for you?
Did you ever stop to think about all the ways that letters can connect people to each other? Letters have the power to bring people closer together. To foster relationships. To share thoughts and feelings in writing that might be hard to say in the moment, but are easier to share on paper
Handwritten letters have an incredible power to bring those far away closer, even if only in your heart.
Long Distance Connection
I was helping my grandmother clean out a couple of her drawers some time ago. As we cleared the items out of one particular drawer, I found this stack of papers neatly held together with string. The papers were fragile and starting to yellow with age, but I could tell immediately that they meant a great deal to my grandmother.
She took the bundle in her hands, caressing it gently, then carefully untied the string holding it together. With great care, she took the top paper off of the stack and handed it to me. Quietly, I took it from her hand and saw that it was an envelope, an envelope that looked pretty beat up, in fact. With a nod from my grandmother, I gently pulled the letter out of the envelope to find that I was holding a letter written by my grandfather to my grandmother.
My grandfather wrote to a young lady that he had never met from the battlefields of World War II. And for all these years, my grandmother had kept these precious letters.
You see, my grandmother had never met my grandfather when she first started writing to him. A friend of hers had mentioned that her brother was over in Europe fighting the war and could use some letters from home. My grandmother knew writing letters was something she could very well do to encourage and bring a smile to the face of a soldier. So, she began writing. At the time, she was teaching school and her students gave her plenty of amusing anticdotes she could relate just by being themselves in a normal day!
She wrote. My grandfather wrote back. The cycle continued over and over again. After a long time of writing – over a year, in fact! – when my grandfather returned home from the war, he knew he needed to meet this lady he had been talking with through letters for so long. They met in person and the rest, as they say, is history. And it all started with a handwritten letter.
The Power of a Handwritten Note
Now, I know you might be thinking, “Well, that was back in the 1940’s! They had to send handwritten letters! There were no other options like email or texting or anything like that!”
While this is very true, I want you to think about it like this: Do you feel a difference between a handwritten letter and a typed letter? Even when it first lands in your hand, before you have read a word, do you notice a difference? Absolutely! The typed letter feels more formal, more business-like. The handwritten letter feels more personal. It feels like there is a greater connection desired by the one who wrote it.
Even before you begin to read a single word of what is written, you start to appreciate the time someone took to write these words to you. The fact that composing these words took time and someone took that time just for you. Someone else thought you were important enough to take time out of their day to pick up a pen and write these words to you. It begins to warm your heart and build anticipation for reading the message itself.
Appreciating the Power of a Letter
Just recently, my grandmother was admitted to a rehab facility after a hospital stay. Thankfully, she is on the mend, but she is 94 years old and needs some extra assistance these days. When I told my children their Mimi (our name for my grandmother) could use a package to make her smile, the very first thing they did was to start writing letters to her!
By the time they were done, we had a package that encompassed printed letters on a handmade card, letters written in cursive on handwriting paper, letters printed on handwriting paper, letters dictated to me and then signed by the little ones, and drawings of every sort and skill level. We packaged all these up and sent them on their way.
The joy and the pleasure delivered in that simple package was incredible. To some it may look like just a jumble of pictures and words and why would you do that when you can send a text? But to my grandmother, it carried the message that she is special. She is loved. She is worth taking time for. She is worth us taking the time to create something handmade just for her.
But here’s the thing, you don’t have to be a 94-year-old great-grandmother to appreciate the power of a letter or a picture. Think how many times your young child has brought a piece of paper to you, a paper that holds a picture they drew or a word they just learned how to write. They give it to you with such pride and love that it is impossible to be indifferent about it!
What about a time you got a letter from a good friend? A handwritten note. One that carried the message of “I’m thinking about you and I treasure your friendship.“ A note that took time and intention to write and then send.
Has your child ever received a handwritten note in the mail? Maybe from a friend or a pen pal or a grandparent? You can’t help but smile when they start dancing around the room in excitement simply over the fact that someone took the time to write them a note. They feel special. They feel loved.
What about that time you found a post-it note on your mirror? A small, colorful square with a few simple words written on it, telling you someone is thinking about you. Demonstrating that you are worth taking time for? Showing you that even simple phrases can mean the world to the ones who receives them?
You’re never too young to write a handwritten note. You’re never too young to receive a handwritten note.
You’re never too old to write a hand written note. You’re never too old to receive a handwritten note.
What do you write?
So what do you write? How do you begin to use this? How do you take this grand idea of writing letters and turn it into reality? Something you can actually do?
Now, the temptation might be to jump in with both feet and write the perfect 3-page handwritten letter to someone you’re thinking of, someone you want to show they are special. And, while it is a very worthy goal to write a wonderful 3-page letter, if you haven’t been in the practice of writing letters, taking on a long letter at first might stop you before you ever get started!
Writing is a skill, an art form. And, like any art form, it takes practice to get good at it. A painter doesn’t just all of a sudden pick up a brush for the first time and paint a masterpiece! There are years of hard work and training that go into enhancing and fine tuning his natural talent. And large masterpiece paintings take time to create. They are not created in an afternoon.
So what do you do? Start small. Start with a small card, perhaps one with a pretty picture on the front and blank inside for you to write on. Start with one big idea that you want to convey to someone and write them a note.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate or eloquent. The most important thing is that it comes from your heart. If you want to tell them something specific, do that! If you want to relay a story or two about your life, go for it! If you want to simply tell them you are thinking about them and wanted to drop them a note to say hi and bring a smile to their face, do that!
It’s not about how long the letter is. It’s about the heart of the sender.
Never underestimate the power of a simple, thought-out, handwritten note.
So here’s my challenge to you today, my Friend: Write a note! Take the time to write a note to someone today. You could start with writing a note to someone in your house. Write the note on a post-it and stick it on their mirror where they will see it. Leave a note on a small piece of paper in their lunch. Tell someone in writing that you’re thinking about them.
But here’s the most important piece: Send the note! A beautiful handwritten note to a friend does absolutely no good if it just sits on your counter forever! Make a point to give it to them or get it in the mail so it will be delivered to them!
Remember, my Friend, it’s not about eloquent words or perfect penmanship. It’s about showing someone you truly care about them and value their friendship enough to take the time to do something special just to show them they are worth it.
Yes, writing letters can be fun. But as fun as it is, the end goal is always to show someone else you treasure them.
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Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.