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Friends & Letters

Pen and paper can connect us to friends and strengthen relationships

By writing letters, we connect with friends and family in ways that are sometimes difficult to do in person.

On the 20th anniversary of the popular Friends television series, and shortly after Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts: An Intimate History wrapped on PBS in Chicago, we’re thinking about how we connect to our friends and family, and how we sometimes do that through letter-writing.

Friends celebrated the close-knit relationships of young people living away from their families in New York City during the 90s.  Do you remember the episode in Season 4 when Rachel writes a letter to Ross; he needs to read it for them to reunite. But he falls asleep and then “fakes it” when Rachel wants to discuss it, with funny consequences.

The Power of the Pen

Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt depended on letter writing to formulate and share ideas, express their love and keep in touch, just as we still do today. The Roosevelts maintained long distance friendships through letter writing when they were called away from home by their duties as public leaders.

In the Roosevelt’s time, letter writing was more common and almost necessary. But today, as Friends demonstrates, we use letter-writing to convey our most intense thoughts with people important in our lives. Sometimes it’s easier to deliver our messages on paper, rather than verbally, especially, as in Rachel and Ross’ case, emotions are high.  Love letters. Condolence letters. Letters of apology. And even congratulatory letters. These are all cases when letters are beautifully appropriate and perfect.

How to Write a Get Well Soon Message

Tips for writing a good get well soon messageThroughout our lives people we love get hurt or sick. A handwritten note expressing our concern and wishes for recovery will mean so much to the recipient. It shows that we’re thinking about them and we’ve taken the time to let them know. Writing a get well soon message is not complicated.

5 Tips

• Be positive and upbeat. This is not a formal letter, so express yourself naturally.
• If the letter is going to a friend or family member, you could bring up something that you both experienced or shared. This will make your message more personal.
• Let them know you miss them, and perhaps offer a specific example.
• A humorous anecdote or good news is always welcome and will lighten the mood.
• Reassure them of your support and assistance.

Dear Elizabeth,
I was so sorry to hear that you’ve been under the weather recently. I certainly hope that you’ll be back up and feeling like yourself again soon. We really miss your sense of humor around here at the office — not to mention your homemade cookies.
I hope that you’ll get plenty of rest and feel better soon. Please let me know if there’s anything at all that I can do for you to make things easier. I’d be happy to go to the grocery store or run an errand for you. Don’t hesitate to call me if there’s something I can do for you. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

Don’t procrastinate — write your get well message in a timely manner. They’ll appreciate your sincere and genuine interest in their well-being.

Writing a heartfelt get well message for someone, whether family, friend, colleague or co-worker, is a thoughtful and considerate gesture. They’ll greatly appreciate and remember your thoughtfulness.

Our Favorite Letter Writing Websites

Letter writing websites can inspire your own letter writing craft.

Handwritten letters from all over the world

Here at Giftsin24.com, we love to write letters. Who doesn’t love the surprise of finding a handwritten envelope at your mail slot? We’ve dug up some cool letter writing websites and blogs to inspire you.

Who knows? You may find your next pen pal.

This beautiful site takes nominations for people in need of a bundle of love letters from strangers. You can propose someone you know, or you can write a letter to someone in need www.moreloveletters.com

The London-based blog Positively Postal collects letters from all around the world. Consider sending in one of your own: www.positivelypostal.co.uk/around-the-world-in-letters

Snail Mail My Email is a worldwide collaborative art project where volunteers hand write strangers’ emails and send physical letters to the intended recipients, free of charge. http://snailmailmyemail.org

International Pen Friends supplies people with penpals worldwide since 1967. www.ipf.net.au

Thank a deployed service member or veteran through the Operation Gratitude website: www.operationgratitude.com/get-involved/write-letters/

The blog Lovely Handwritten Notes asks for letters and sends them out, no questions asked. http://lovelyhandwrittennotes.tumblr.com/contact.info

Do you have favorite letter writing websites or blogs? Include them in the comments section and we’ll consider them for our next blog on this topic.

Why letters are still meaningful in a digital age

Writing letters with pen and stationery is an important human activity.In this age of electronic mail, Facebook friends and even the first experiments with self-driving cars, writing letters with pen and paper can feel old-fashioned. After all, if you can do it with a computer faster and with less effort, then it must be better. Or so we’re led to believe.

The fact of the matter is that the human touch is still essential to our well-being. The sights, smells, sounds and textures of daily living soothe our nerves, stimulate our creativity and connect us to one another. Consider these examples:

When you gather together with friends and family, you end up in the kitchen, with all the smells and sounds of cooking.

Walking barefoot–in the sand, on a lawn or in the mud–is one of the simple pleasures of summer.

A handshake is still the best way to seal a deal.

And what college student doesn’t love a care-package, complete with home-baked cookies and a love note?

The Power of Handwritten Letters

Sitting down to write a letter, as humans have done for at least a thousand years, is another such indispensable experience.

You select a piece of paper and a pen that feels just right. Then you choose a chair, perhaps with an enjoyable view. You might listen to music or simply the breeze wafting through the window curtains.

And then you write.

You write what’s on your mind, in your heart and even sometimes what flows out of your soul.

You fold your letter, you place it in the envelope, you address it and you stamp it. Then you leave it for the mail carrier or bring it to the post office.

Your letter makes its journey…and what happens next?

Where the Magic Happens

First, there’s delight and surprise at the mailbox.

Think of the next sensations. There’s the look of the canceled stamp and the feel of the envelope, which may be a little worse for the wear.

Some people may wait to read the letter at a more leisurely time when all words can be savored and considered. Others may tear open the envelope right away.

Then there’s the sound of paper ripping. And paper unfolding.

The paper crinkles in hand as smooth sheets slip against each other.

The handwriting–so personal, so individual–reflects an aspect of personality that a typed email can never reveal. The slanting, curling letters pressed into paper, sometimes lightly, other times deeply, are as unique as the individual who made them.

It’s quiet for a while as words register in the eyes, then the brain, and the heart. Emotions, thoughts, feelings tumble about.

After the letter is read, perhaps favorite parts are re-read. Maybe at supper that evening, certain passages are read out loud to family or friends.

Later that evening, the process begins anew:  The writer selects a piece of paper and a pen that feels just right…

Digital communication can not replace the tactile joy or simple pleasures of paper and pen.

What do you think?