Does anyone remember Lisa Frank stationary? The colorful ponies and puppies frolicking on clouds and rainbows? I do. I had the pencil cases, pens, erasers, and even a mini address book. I wrote the mailing address of every person I knew in there — which equated to my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and my own house. I loved writing things down.
I also loved getting things in the mail. My grandmother would send me Hallmark cards filled with spidery script that I sometimes needed my mom to translate for me; grandma’s letters were a flowing mystery that always spelled love. I still have them, tucked in boxes in the basement. She sent them all throughout my adolescence and into college. I still get them, remarkable in the handwriting that lets me know exactly who sent it before I even look at the return address. I have never thrown one out, cherishing them all.
Letters are wonderful that way. You can’t put phone calls, text messages, or Facebook comments in a box tucked away. You may be able to reread something on your phone screen, scrolling back through a conversation, but do text messages have the same power as a piece of paper with real ink and a signature?
For me, they never have. Maybe it is because I didn’t actually have a cell phone until I was a teenager (anyone else out there remember the excitement of getting your first flip phone?), but I have always had a soft spot for adorable stationery and stamps. I still purchase it, and yes, I still use it to write to friends.
And yes, all of my friends are totally reachable by iPhone, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat — you name it, I am on it. I could easily send a quick Snap with the caption “Loving this pool day” or text the bikini and wave emoji to convey I am having a relaxing time by the water. Or, I could take a pen, paper, and envelope and write something — really say something — about my day. Granted the news won’t get there instantly, but isn’t that the fun of it?
That is the first reason I recommend writing letters to friends — really saying something is personal. Once you graduate college or move away for a new job, relationship, or whatever, it is alarmingly easy to lose touch with people who mean the most. Writing letters is intimate and takes more time than typing a message that autocorrects. It says, “Hey, I care about you enough to sit down, write this, and sign it with love. I care enough to bring it to the mailbox and place it inside, to spend 49 cents on a stamp. For you.” That is a great relationship builder.
I also think it is simply fun. You know the excitement you get tracking a package in the mail? And how it is just the absolute best to open it up, even though you usually already know what is inside? That same excitement happens with letters, except you won’t know what the message is. It is a little mystery, a little unknown, in a world where we want to know everything, instantly and daily.
It is also a sweet thing to do for your significant other. Even if you see them every day, if you aren’t living together, there is still an opportunity to mail something and surprise them with a cute card with a puppy on it. Or simply a note that says, “I love you.” If you are living with them, you could try leaving notes in the kitchen or on the coffee table for them to find when you aren’t home. Again, this is a tangible, lasting, and personal way to send a message. No electronics required.
If you are thinking of sending a letter to someone but don’t have any supplies, I’ve got a few recommendations. I buy a lot of my stationery from T.J. Maxx or Marshalls (in the Home section or in those little displays as you wait to check out), and you just never know what you will find there. Lily Pulitzer, of course, has some adorable cards and materials. Craft stores like Michael’s are also a really good bet. And finally, Amazon — who can go wrong with that?
So you’ve got the goods now. If you are unsure of what to say for your first letter, just start simply. “Dear Danielle, How are you? I wanted to write this letter to tell you what is going on with me. Today I had a rough day at work. What is going on with you?”
It doesn’t need to be complicated. Friends know you, and you will know what to say. The important thing is you are saying it in a different way.