Decades ago, before he passed, our friend Doug used to write great Christmas letters. They were not the common parade of achievements or lists of places visited far and wide, but were filled instead with poignant slices of life and his sincere responses, along with a generous sprinkling of humor. We saved every one of them.
Like a gift, a good letter is something that can be cherished. It is a testament of friendship and love, and carries with it the depth of our spirit and our true self.
Different from typical electronic communications, letters begin with the word, 'Dear,' followed by a name. Even business letters have their, 'Dear Sir,' or 'Dear Madam,'. This is the greeting. Letters then progress to two or three or more paragraphs, each covering a pertinent or interesting point. They can begin or finish with a summary or final thoughts and close with a salutation like 'Gratefully yours,' 'Respectfully,' or 'With love.' Though all letters deserve to be well crafted, personal letters can and often do take this to a level of being an art form. They may even sometimes include little sketches, or arrows or even occasionally photographs.
When I sit down to write a personal letter, I give it my full concentration, free from interruptions. Though the cat may be on my lap or the dog at my feet, as the sentences and flow of ideas arise, they can be lost if interruptions break the silence of my thoughts. So, I generally sequester myself away somewhere with a nice cup of tea, appropriate paper and a good writing pen. Just like an artist gathering her pallet and supplies for a painting, or a lyricist sitting down with his guitar, the space of creation is the same: quiet, comfortable and private. We bring our full presence to the communication and it's fun. It feels good. It is satisfying.
So during this time away from ordinary time, perhaps consider giving it a try. Set aside an hour or two to be creative, to give the gift of your self, of your love for the other and remember to include what has made you smile. It is guaranteed to bring them a chuckle too. Tell them something like when you were taking the kids to class the other morning you asked them,"What did the mama buffalo say to her little boy buffalo when she dropped him off at school?" "Bye son." (Bison.) Tee Hee. Okay. "What did the zero say to the eight?" "Nice belt." I know, go ahead and groan. I couldn't help but share two of my favorites with you.
Reading a good handwritten letter can be surprisingly warming for both of your hearts on some of these cold mid-winter nights.
Enjoy. With love, from me.