OLD LETTERS DISCOVERED
There is a series on Netflix called Tiding up with Marie Kondo. It’s about how this one woman from Japan helps people get rid of the clutter in their lives. I started watching it, and found many of her tips useful. Naturally, I started going through all of the stuff I have collected over the years.
But there were two surprises. The first was finding the letters I had written to my mother when I was on active duty in the Marine Corps. She had saved them all. The second was finding the letters and postcards I had sent to my Aunt Louise when I was living and working in Japan.
What this proved to me is many people enjoy real letters. Of course email is good, but nothing replaces the joy a person feels when that individual opens his or her mailbox and finds a letter or card. I’m one of those people who believe you should send real Christmas cards, not email messages. A birthday card in the mail makes the person feel special, not like you are sending a message to let the person know you remembered his or her birthday. For those who are on my mailing list, they know I write a couple of letters each year and mail them out. When I meet up with them at reunions or on vacation, they always tell me how much they enjoy getting my letters. I had two relatives in assisted care facilities, and getting a letter or postcard made their day.
So my take away for this message is write a letter or send a card. Snail mail is a great morale boost, especially for military personnel serving overseas. Make someone feel special. A stamp is a small price to pay for the happiness you will bring to others.
“Writers write.” I know this is a quote from the movie Throw Mama From the Train starring Danny DeVito and Billy Crystal. But I agree with the statement, writers do need to write, whether it is a journal, articles, working on a novel, or writing letters.
I believe in writing letters for several reasons. First, it’s good practice and something that every writer can do. It makes you to write sentences and paragraphs. It makes you express yourself in greater detail. The best thing is it forces you to take notice of the details in your life. Too many times we ask what happened yesterday or last weekend, and the answer we get back is “nothing.” Writing letters makes you take notice of the little changes in your life. For example, does your pet demand more attention for playtime? What about that shopping trip last weekend where you were so bored while your significant other was so excited about shopping for something. Then there is the party at a bar or some other social gathering that was a total bust – it was so boring. In short, you begin to notice what is happening in your life.
Another reason for writing is it helps you stay in touch with people in your life. Letters have helped me stay in touch with people from high school and from others when I was on active duty, both of these took place more than 30 years ago. To make a friend, you need to be a friend. And friends stay in touch.
Also, it is a historical record. I came across letters I wrote to my mother when I was in the Marine Corps. They reminded me of things I had long forgotten. I wrote lots of letters when I was living in Japan. These are a record of my adventures over there. Think about it—much of what we know about life hundreds of years ago comes from letters. Letters have outlasted all of our computer technology. Remember the first floppy disks, which gave way to smaller disks, which now have been replaced with memory sticks. We can’t access floppy disks any longer, but the letters written years ago are still available.
However, my big reason for writing is I know how much the person receiving the letter appreciate the mail. In the military nowadays, everyone has a mailbox. But when I was on active duty, nothing improved your morale like getting a letter from someone. My wife loves it when I send her a card through the mail. Of course she likes the card, but she loves getting something in the mail. It makes her feel special.
Furthermore, there is no excuse for not writing. With computers and the word processing programs, it is so easy to write. Many times the programs even correct your mistakes, which help with the grammar. While many may opt to use email, which I can understand, email still doesn’t replace the feel of real paper in one’s hand. But computers do give a person a chance to write more often and reach more people. Still I feel an email letter will never replace the smile snail mail brings to someone.