Monday, January 25, 2016

Who Still Writes Letters? Me. That's who.

Dear Kim,

Maybe it is our approaching anniversary or maybe the hearts hanging in every window of the school calling Valentine’s Day to mind, but I’m really into this love letter thing you’ve started.

You know, I think I may have wooed my husband with love letter writing? Be careful. You too might feel the woo.
He kept every letter from the time we lived miles apart in the beginning of our relationship all the way up to, well until the last time I wrote him a note. When was that? *Mental note: send the poor guy a card on Monday.

There’s just something about that Dear salutation on top. The act of licking the envelope, pressing your pen into the now thick layers of paper to write a person’s name, maybe your true love's name, and street address on the outside. It really, is such lovely act.

As you know I was asked to write copy for a website aimed at old-fashioned letter writing. The target audience is partners who may have gotten themselves into a sticky situation. How could I possibly relate? But the product, the apology letter, was something I could get behind and I decided to write the letters, many, many apology letters. Did you read the one I wrote following the request to “Write a letter of apology that is both humorous and sincere of which you have no idea what you (the partner) did wrong”? Now who would need a letter like that?

Did I tell you that my girlfriend Jen started a letter writing project this past November called #projectgratitude? While the name was all sorts of hashtaggy, the concept was anything but. Nothing typed. Nothing sent electronically. Nothing but the real stuff. Some purists even wrote in fountain pen. 

Jen asked us to write letters of gratitude to our real life heroes. She wanted us to think about the letter writing process. Compose our thoughts about writing the letters as well as write the letters themselves. (Blame her background in psychology.) The first letter that I sent was to my parents. Easy, right? I mean I do write them a thank you note after all birthdays-- just like they taught me. But this one was different. The monumental thought of thanking them for everything. Everything. Naming them as heroes. Well the task seemed too much. After I had scrawled Dear Dad and Jeannie across the top of the page I wondered if maybe I picked the hardest heroes to go first? Was there an easier when it came to writing a letter of gratitude? Eventually the letter came. The way writing often does when you just put your heart into it.

My step mom called shortly after receiving the #projectgratitude letter. “We hung it on the fridge,” she said. And then she added, “I put a sticky on it that says, ‘keeper’ so your Dad won’t throw it away.” The letter mattered. It mattered to them, two of the best folks I know and it mattered to me. 

Kim, your letter mattered to me too. Even if it was electronic. Even if a few hundred other people saw it. (Side note: can you believe a few hundred people read it???) It mattered because I know what it takes to sit down and write to someone else. The stop of the day’s rush. The focus on that one person. The heart needed to get the words to come out on paper. It all matters.

I look forward to my next letter TO you, but not nearly as much as my next letter FROM you.

Lots of love,