Monday, August 1, 2011

Do the Write Thing.

I have a strong sense for nostalgia. One of the things I will not let go of is writing letters. I'm not living in the ice age; I spend quite a bit of my time on the computer and a lot of my conversations happen via internet tubes, but I still believe in handwritten letters.

My "grandma" is a woman who lives in Atlantic, Iowa who had the heart and the home to sponsor my parents when they came from Vietnam with little education and a huge language barrier. She opened her life to them and gave them a place to start in an intimidating whole new world.  And this was not a whole new world in the Aladdin-Jasmine sense. This was a cold place where speaking Vietnamese didn't get you far. (Imagine coming from the tropics to Iowa, then Minnesota).

My grandma loves to write letters. Ever since my parents got back up on their feet and ended up relocating to Minnesota, I have seen letters from my grandma on a regular basis. My parents rarely write back to her because they're not the writing type and would rather have a phone conversation, yet she still sends letters, cards and photos. When I learned to write letters, I often sent them to her. Part of me sent letters to make up for what my parents lacked in correspondence, but part of it was because I liked to share thoughts and the idea of receiving something in the mail always appealed to me.

Since my start in writing to my grandma, I've had penpals and written notes in grade school, sent cards to my high school friends when we went off to college, sent cards to my college friends when we went off to real life, and kept in touch with my friends who moved away or who I met in Hong Kong when I studied abroad. (Here's to you, E, J, and D).

There's something about opening the mailbox and seeing a piece of mail that isn't a bill, a credit card offer, a plea for your money, or an inappropriately-sent advertisement for pre-teen clothing. Seriously, Justice, stop sending me discounts. People have a foggy view of what snail mail is. It doesn't take long to write a letter, it doesn't take a lot of money to put it in an envelope and stamp it, and it only takes a few days for most letters to arrive.  The US Postal Service also has a nice way of making sure things actually get to their intended destinations, whereas shipping overseas increases the likelihood that something gets lost occasionally. It's funny too that most people like to receive mail, but most people don't send mail. So where does this mail come from?

It could start with you. One of my resolutions for my Happiness Project (that I started in response to reading the aforementioned The Happiness Project book) is to write a letter once a week. It may seem like a lot, but if I go through my rotation of people I write to, that means each of them might get a handful of letters or cards a year.

Go ahead, do the write thing.


  1. You need to meet Harri's grandma. You would adore her and vice versa. We had lunch with her last Tuesday. She first gave me a bracelet that she made, a friendship one. SO cute. Then we talked a lot. And she talked about the importance of handwriting, and how a handwritten card makes such a difference. She was explaining how you can't frame a text message, but you can frame a letter or a card. How you can't treasure a text message like you can a letter or a card. She makes all her own cards (like you) and sends them out for occasions.

    Then a few days after lunch, I get a card in the mail! Thanking me for lunch and then she put this little article in about writing and how important it is.

    So I decided a) I'm actually going to send her a card back this time! And b) I want to start writing. I'm going to start writing to soldiers. I'm not sure what I'll say the first letter, but I'll do it all the same. Maybe just do things like Christmas cards or something, IDK.

    But I felt very differently about writing after having that conversation with her and I've been meaning to talk to you about it. Because we told her that you remind us of her in that sense.

    So yayy keep up the writing and the cards. It touches lives more than you may know! You never hear someone say "omg Jess texted me happy birthday it was so nice!" but we always hear "omg Jen sent me a card for ____, it was really nice!"

  2. I actually do think about doing this from time to time but I'm afraid it would weird the recipient out. It's so uncommon and formal-seeming I picture it being as though I stood up when a lady left the table.

  3. Or, if you're too lazy to write one out, you can have someone else do it for you for free! Only for the next few days though.


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