Have you ever received a random letter in the mail? Random, as in an unanticipated, handwritten note or letter?
The use of first-class mail has been in decline for decades, and letters have become almost rare. Any letter or note in the mail is a gift, whether it be a thank you note, a birthday card, a holiday greeting. But most of our communications today are virtual, via social media, email, text messaging, and more, using multiple platforms.
Given the shift in how we communicate, a random letter in the mail is a welcome surprise. Within the past six months, I have received a few such letters. Has the pandemic made us more aware of the value of personal communications? The people who have written to me are not the sort to have time hanging on their hands –either being fully employed, or having extensive volunteer activities to keep their lives super charged and busy.
One of my letters was from someone I have never met. It was a thank you note on behalf of a mutual friend of ours. It was generous and unexpected, and it brought me happiness to have made a new friend.
Another random letter that came in the mail was beautifully decorated by an artist friend, and included a handmade beaded necklace. Throughout much of 2020, I helped organize a group of political postcard writers focused on the November Congressional elections. Each of us hand wrote 20 or more postcards each week – a true commitment of time and resources. This friend wrote to thank me for including her on my team. Seriously! I could not have been more grateful to the many friends, and friends of friends from all over the country, for joining me in this effort. To be the recipient of such a beautiful gesture was so appreciated.
Quite recently, I received a letter in the mail from a former colleague and dear friend. Although we have not met in person since months before the pandemic, we have exchanged a couple of emails to stay in touch. This newsy, chatty handwritten letter, mailed on Earth Day, came with a shower of colorful small dried, hand pressed wild flowers. How different, thoughtful, and special this was – another perfect gift in the mail.
This past year of quarantine has, in some ways, brought us closer to the people that we love. Most afternoons, we say good night on Facetime to our grandchildren, who live on the other side of the country, over 2,500 miles away. Our grandson especially enjoyed Frog and Toad stories earlier this year. Two of his favorite stories can be found in Frog and Toad Are Friends, by the late Arnold Lobel. One story is The Lost Button, which he can recite by heart. The other is called The Letter.
In The Letter, Toad is feeling very sad, because he never gets any mail. “Every day my mailbox is empty,” he laments. “That is why waiting for the mail is a sad time for me.”
Frog goes home to write a letter for Toad. “Dear Toad, I am glad that you are my best friend. Your best friend, Frog.”
Frog asks his friend Snail to deliver it to Toad’s mailbox. “Sure,” said the snail. “Right away.” Predictably, though, it takes several days for the letter to actually reach Toad’s mailbox. And it makes Toad very happy to receive it.
Taking a cue, I sent my grandson his first letter in the mail. And he was very happy to receive it.
So, while it may not be a matter of urgency, please consider sending a friend or family member a random letter in the mail. I can guarantee that it will make them happy.
Whether you are a mother, father, foster or step mother or father, a doting aunt or uncle, a son or daughter, let us honor the lives and memories of our parents and grandparents, especially our mothers, on this special day. Happy Mother’s Day to all!