By Kit Turen
In addition to being the season of holiday greetings, December is also Write to a Friend Month. What better time than the present to consider the now-uncommon pleasure of sending or receiving a handwritten letter or card!
Writing letters is a wonderful way to reflect and connect. Consider the friends or family members in your life who would be delighted to receive a handwritten letter from you. Perhaps the hectic pace of life has meant we’ve been out of touch, or that we’ve only connected via email or phone. Taking the time to sit down and write to a friend not only benefits the person who eventually receives the note, but it’s also a great way to pause and slow down in your own life. You may even wish to create a small, personal ritual out of the practice.
The possibilities of what you may choose to write about are endless: Express your gratitude for the gift of friendship, send support to someone coping with hard times, offer an overdue apology, or bring a dear one up-to-date.
Traditionally, a letter has five parts: the heading, the greeting, the body, the closing, and the signature. Each of these parts can be used as a step in a letter-writing practice.
Ritual for Connecting Via Letter Writing
The Heading: Situate yourself where you would like to write your letter, be it at home, a café, or (weather permitting) perhaps under a tree. Bring a pen and some paper, be it fine stationary or simply notebook paper. Pause and become present.
The Greeting: Take a moment to reflect upon, and connect to, whomever you are writing.
The Body: This is the heart of the letter. As you write, keep the person you are writing, and their image, in your heart and imagination. Personalize your letter for that person.
The Closing: Consider the emotion you want to close with, be it a more formal “Sincerely” to a light-hearted “Cheerio” to a deeply felt “Love.” Whatever you choose, feel and send that emotion as you write it.
The Signature: By all means, this is the time to be personal if the recipient is a close friend or family member. Use a nickname or include your rarely used middle name. Take a moment to affirm yourself for completing your letter.
And of course, remember to address and stamp your letter and drop it in a mailbox!
About the author: Kit Turen is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant living in Washington, DC, a city steeped in national ceremonies. Kit creates and facilitates personalized ceremonies for individuals, families, communities and organizations. Her most recent experience with handwritten letters was writing to her nephew while he was in Army Ranger School (emails or phone calls not allowed.) Drawn to story, Kit is also a licensed tour guide and writes and performs her original stories. As a radio and television producer, her work has aired on NPR, PBS, CBS, and Discovery Networks. She can be reached at [email protected].