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    The Lost Art of Letter Writing

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    April is letter writing month, promoted through a campaign called “Write_On.” The Campaign aims to the promote joy, creativity, expression, and connection through hand-written correspondence. It’s a great idea from a distant past where people used old fashioned pens and paper to send each other thoughtful notes through snail-mail, and it’s making a comeback.

    The truth is that I like modern modes of communication. Texts, tweets, emails, and Facebook messages fuel many of my connections. I’m amazed at how I can, in any moment, directly connect with my family, friends, neighbours, or admired authors I’ve never met. I believe that technology today has truly revolutionized our communication with a level of ease we could not have imagined, even a few years ago.

    Yet in the midst of emails and texts, the lost art of letter writing is finding a new generation of supporters. Letter writers are rediscovering the impact that comes from taking the time to sit down, reflect, write, send off, and wait for a reply. This year for Christmas I gave my seven-year-old niece a package of stamps and a stationary set. Her gift was a year of letter writing, a kind of pen-pal kit, so she could write back and forth with me. She figured it out in no time, writing me nearly every week with short notes, silly questions, and a few stickers from her sticker collection. We go back and forth and she is such a joy. I find that I’m keeping her tiny artifacts, tender tokens of affection from my little niece. What I thought was a gift for her has become a gift to me.

    At its core, letter writing is the art of giving attention to those people and places that matter to you. It’s realizing that your small act of care goes a lot farther that you know. After our baby was born, I pulled the anesthetist aside and thanked him for helping with the labour and delivery. He was amazing. I candidly remarked that he must get, “hundreds of thank you notes from grateful parents, every year!” Without missing a beat, he said he had never received a single letter in twenty years. My heart broke. How is it possible that a doctor who had played such a pivotal role in thousands of births, had never received so much as a postcard? I vowed, then and there, to write him a letter, and write more letters to more people, more often. It has been a beautiful journey.

    During the month of April, letter writers are taking up the challenge to write 30 letters in 30 days. These may be simple notes of gratitude after meeting with a friend or neighbour or it might be a silly note or sketch to a kid you know. When is the last time you’ve sent a letter to your spouse? It may be a great way to show them how much you love them. Is there someone you know who is driving you crazy? Send them a note and find a way of honestly appreciating their better qualities. Encourage the recipient of your letter to get in on the fun by sending them a self-addressed, stamped envelope along with your letter. There’s nothing quite like going to the mailbox and finding a personal letter among the bills and flyers.

    However you celebrate letter writing month, find ways of reviving the joy, creativity, expression and connection that comes from sending hand-written notes. If you’re really into the spirit, write me at Preston Pouteaux, 209 Rainbow Falls Glen, Chestermere, AB, T1X0S6 and tell me about a time you made a meaningful connection through a letter. I’d love to read your story and I’ll write you back. Happy letter writing month!