The long-lost art of letter writing and sending Christmas cards
Letter-writing has nearly disappeared. We don’t even send as many Christmas cards as we used to. Why would we bother when email and e-cards make communication so convenient and affordable?
Sending a printed card or letter gives your message a personal touch through tactile experience. As a writer, you’re sending a piece of yourself with the letter. Your handwriting is unique to you, a gift that only you can give to the other person. Messy or neat, it’s as distinct as your fingerprint. You may even leave a trace of your scent on the paper, such as some lotion or perfume from your hand. You handled that page and envelope, so indirectly you’re sending a human touch to the person – something we’ve done without long enough during COVID.
Writing forces you to slow down and think before you write. There’s no autocorrect on a pen, so your message needs to be crafted before you put it on paper. Since you have a limited amount of space on the page for your message anyway, it’s more likely to center on the words, phrases and sentences that are most meaningful. It can also give a certain boldness to express feelings of love and care, when you know that there is no opportunity for immediate response.
A physical letter is a gift of time and effort. You can whip off an email in seconds, but handwriting a letter forces you to slow down. In fact, most of us write much more slowly now than we might have a few decades ago, being out of practice and having forgotten (or never learned) the fluid cursive strokes that make a pen glide quickly along the page. Add to that the rarity of handwritten letters today, and it’s an even more precious gift. What’s more, you had to invest some funds in stamps to send your letters. While you could easily send five or more letters for the price of a cup of coffee, it’s still a gesture of giving that can tell the person you care.
Letters can be read and reread again and again, smelled and handled and cherished. Unlike the emails that get lost in our inbox or accidentally deleted, you can save your letters in physical form to pull out year after year and relive old memories.
If you’d like to dive into handwritten letters but aren’t sure who to write to, contact the library to adopt a senior. We’ve partnered with the Local Office on Aging (LOA) to connect volunteer letter-writers with isolated seniors in our community. Your letters could be a lifeline for them.
During this holiday season and winter months, try exchanging letters with someone who has been isolated by COVID-19. If you’re not into writing, make a phone call. You can add delight to someone’s week, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the value that they add to your life in return.
It’s not too late. Grab a pen and paper, and write a letter today!