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Statewide Culture 0

Card and Letter Writing Spread Christmas Cheer

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The art of card and letter writing seems to have disappeared the moment we first heard that electronic voice excitedly declare, “You’ve got mail!” (Younger generations, you may need to Google that.) Meaningful words are still sent between friends and family but reading them on a screen lacks the appeal of opening the mailbox and discovering someone has taken the time to pen something on paper, address it, stamp it and send it from near or far.

As the holiday season approaches, letter writing sees a bit of an uptick. Children write what may be their first and only letters of the year to Santa. And families gather for pictures that will grace the covers of their family Christmas cards.

We live and thrive in a digital era where keeping up with people, even those across the world, is easy. But Facebook, email, and instant messaging don’t have the personal touch that comes with handwritten correspondence.  Writing letters may be a lost art, but there is no time to revive the tradition like the holidays.

Why Should You Write A Letter Or Send A Card?

Digital correspondence is fast and convenient. I can type a message, and the words go to the recipient in less than a few seconds. Handwritten correspondence takes time and effort and costs money. So why is it worth it?

  • Connection – Sending a letter is the next best thing to showing up at someone’s door. When you sit down to write a letter, you must focus on the recipient for an extended time. No matter how far away, the connection you have with that person increases as you spend time writing. Knowing that you once held that same paper in your hands helps unite the individuals in a unique and meaningful way when the letter is received.
  • Meditative – Life is busy, and it seems the holiday season is the busiest time of the year. Taking time to sit down and handwrite a card can center your mind and help you to focus on what is important.
  • Uplifting – Writing letters can be fun, but the real joy may be one you, as the sender, don’t get to experience. When the recipient finds a card or letter in the mailbox, it uplifts their spirit. A big smile will spread across their face as they retrieve the envelope and discover that someone cared enough to send a handwritten note.

To Whom Should You Write?

Family – Write to your mom who lives next door or send a letter to a cousin you haven’t seen in years. Both will be equally appreciated.

Friends – We often tell our friends how we appreciate them but writing it on a card can be even more meaningful.

Elderly – Whether living at home or in a care facility, getting older can be challenging and lonely. Some elderly are blessed to be surrounded by friends and family, but many are not. Discovering someone who would benefit from a card or note is as simple as contacting a local church, nearby nursing home or senior community and asking for a recommendation.

Veterans – Giving back to service members by sending letters or cards to veterans in local VA hospitals is a great way to spread some holiday cheer.

Sick Children – Being confined to a hospital bed is never easy for children, but the holidays can be incredibly challenging. Kids love getting letters, and a simple note can lift their spirit. Most hospitals ask that you don’t say “get well,” but other messages of encouragement are welcome. The best practice is to send several letters or cards in a large envelope so that staff can review them and deliver them where they are most needed.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital
1 Children’s Way
Little Rock, AR 72202

Arkansas Children’s Hospital offers a free digital eCard option if you know a specific patient’s name.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas – Ronald McDonald House provides a “home away from home” for families of children experiencing an extended stay in a local hospital. This time can be scary and stressful for families, and encouraging words are always needed.

RMHCA
1501 W. 10th Street
Little Rock, AR 72202

Homeless and Addiction Recovery Centers – Overcoming addiction can be challenging, and centers across Arkansas are helping to pave the road for a brighter future. Recovery facilities provide opportunities for men and women to form good and healthy habits, learn work and parenting skills and eventually transition into roles as productive members of society. Cards, scripture and words of encouragement are always appreciated.

John 3:17 Women’s Ministry
431 Hwy 145 South
Newport, AR 72112

John 3:16 Men’s Ministry
75 Holmes Rd.
Charlotte, AR 72522

What Should You Write?

Knowing what to write can be a challenge, especially when writing to someone you don’t know. In most cases, conversational letters are appropriate so think of it as starting a conversation with someone you met in the checkout line at your local grocery store.

  • Tell about your life.
  • Talk about the weather.
  • Share a funny story.
  • Include an inspirational quote.
  • Be encouraging.
  • Be thoughtful.

Tips For Writing Letters

Letter writing should be joyful and uplifting, so keep the message light and encouraging. In general, avoid topics you wouldn’t discuss with family over the holiday dinner table. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Handwrite the letter or card. We live in a digital age, but a handwritten note will be more meaningful.
  2. Write large and legibly to ensure the recipient can easily read your message.
  3. Keep it short and sweet. Even a short message will brighten someone’s day.
  4. Include your children. Some of the sweetest mail is pictures and letters from children. Sharing the joy of letter writing with your children will not only enrich the lives of others but will teach your children a valuable skill.

The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration for many. Remember those struggling this season and send a handwritten card or letter to brighten someone’s day during a time of year that can also be incredibly lonely.

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and virtual assistant while raising her young son. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas. Julie loves adventure. Not necessarily "scare-your-pants-off" adventure but the kind where you seek out new and exciting things. New foods, new places, new experiences. On her blog, Seek Adventures, Julie shares about the outdoor and travel adventures of her family as they camp and standup paddleboard across the South. You can also learn more about her writing on her site Seek Adventures Media.

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