Many of us, when we were little, wrote letters. I know my mother sat me down on a regular basis and watched over my shoulder as I penned thank you notes and sentimental hellos to my grandparents, aunts and cousins. They were gently requested, but pretty much mandatory. Letters were courteous and proper. They meant spending quiet time and working on concentration. But, most of all, my mom reminded me that if I liked getting mail I was going to have to send some.
That seemed enough to sell me for a very long time on the value of letter writing. We’d gotten pretty lax in the last couple of years though and it wasn’t until we moved from the left coast to the right coast of Canada when I realized what a critical feature of life and well-being the act of pen pal-ing with friends and family actually is. Facebook will never beat some sweet surprise showing up in the mailbox.
After a crazed month of running our faces off we got a letter in the mail from a sweet friend of Mhari’s the other day. She quickly read the note and sat down to return the gesture. What came about as a result made my old-skool motherly heart beam with rather extreme pride.
For more than an hour, she sat quietly crafting her packages. While Olivia was getting something extra special from the kiddo, the act of writing letters inspired her to keep going and going, pasting envelopes with stickers, making drawings, thinking about what the perfect thing would be to say for several additional friends too.
Our home found itself peaceful and joyful and full of things to say.
And, while all of that was so great in a “this is what my life would look like if rose colored glasses worked” sort of way, it was the act of sticking those sweet treats in the mail that took the prize for awesome-est. She loved it.
Letter writing, especially amongst childhood friends, is truly a lost art. So many kids today rely on electronics (most of us adults do too) that taking a pen and putting it to paper is the mark of something super cool. While I’d love to project that I am some magically wonderful mom who is so great because her kids write letters, I instead only profess that I love the effect that writing letters to her friends has on Mhari. She sees them as an investment, people she needs to know and set aside special things for. That is monumental. Especially since the land of the 7-year-old is code for selfish world-revolves-around-me.
In the pen pal universe, I suspect that the type of pen pal I had as a kid – a sweet British girl whose name was Emma, whom I never met or even really know how I found – is a rarity. Parents are nervous and the world has gotten a bit creepier. Letters were once so innocent. Now, who knows who is on the other end?
But, there’s nothing to say that kids can’t do their own letter writing to friends or relatives – and after the cool effect it has had on our big kid, I’m feeling like a bit of a champion of the actually-written-by-hand word.
It’s like preserving a piece of culture, an art, a tradition that is both warm and engaging.
Bust out the stationary. Find that great pen. Buy a book of stamps. Kids love getting mail and doing some serious letter writing is a great way to roll through summer.
Remember, you have to send some to get some.:)
Category: INSPIRED ACTION