Writing long letters may fall in and out of the trend cycle, but the art of connecting with people through cards will never get old.
Sending cards in the mail with a personal message extends feelings of goodwill. I think that’s why Christmas cards and holiday newsletter updates are so welcoming. We are so busy and spread apart across cities, states and even countries. Seeing a picture of someone’s family with updates of graduations and new births and milestones of the past year feels like we had a conversation. I realize that most people post milestone events things online, but in the world of billions of images uploaded a day, how many do we miss? How much are we truly seeing?
It’s a treasure to hold something tangible in our hands, to read through a letter without distraction and tape it to the letter board for a while. I leave my cards on the bookcase for a month or so, reminding me of the kindness of the person who sent it. Receiving a card feels as if the relationship has bloomed again and provides conversation to follow up on.
Writing a letter shows that you care. It certainly takes much more effort than an email or text. Shoot, finding a stamp sometimes feels like a small miracle! While we gripe about the never-ending email inbox, rarely does a person complain about receiving a personal letter!
I understand people’s hesitancy to write and send cards. It does take effort! Writers block really can happen when we sit down to craft a card to a family member, friend, or business colleague.
If you’re not sure what to write about, here are some ideas.
Go For Authentic Connection Instead of Filler
“How long is long enough,” my youngest sister asked me recently. She’s taken up letter writing with several friends after school stopped back in March. She felt the pressure to fill the page, but then does she write on the back too? What if she ran out of things to say after three quarters of the page is filled?
Writing out a card is not unlike an artist staring at a blank canvas! Where to start? How much color and paint to add in?
What is most important is the genuine concern behind the letter.
Most of us start out with a polite ‘how are you?’ and then move on to the meat of the message.
If you say what you wanted to say in a single paragraph, be done with it, sign it and send it on its way.
Writing a card does not require us to become novelists.
Unless you love to write long letters (and that’s fantastic if you do), keep it short, keep it real and get it in the mail.
You’re more likely to write more if you don’t feel the pressure to write at length.
Recall a Favorite Memory
This is one of my favorite ways to reconnect with someone when significant time has passed since we talked. I love social media, but sometimes I want to reconnect offline.
For example, my friend Maxine moved to Florida four or five years ago when her husband had a job transfer. We’d been in the same small group through church for a few years, hosted in her home, and I’d gotten to know her pretty well. There were lots of fun memories, lots of potlucks and events, all the things that bring people together. I’d been seeing her pop up on Instagram and rather than direct message her, I sent her a card, recalling the joy of the memories and how much I appreciated her enthusiasm for people (Maxine is one of those people who just pours herself into others with huge smiles and laughter. You cannot help feeling happy in her presence).
The nice thing about recalling a memory is that I can finish with a thank you. I was thinking about when…..I so appreciate xyz about you….
Share Something You’ve Been Doing
Exchanging letters with my grandma’s and Grammy (paternal great grandmother) has been a beautiful practice. My maternal grandma was good about writing what project they were working on. Whether it was planting their garden or something garden related, preparing for holidays or going to art shows for their business, she kept me up to date on the significant events of their lives.
Her descriptions were always brief and usually left me curious to know more. She didn’t linger over subjects!
Sharing personal information is not a way of communicating with everyone, yet with some people, sharing those seasonal experiences is a way of sharing ourselves. In doing so, we encourage them to share themselves with us.
Catch Up on Thank you’s
Writing thank you cards may be one of the easiest ways to send a card. I have a few that need to be written and mailed out this week.
To make a thank you card meaningful, I still go by the “keep it short, keep it real, and get it in the mail” approach.
Thank you so much for the ______. I liked it because of _______. It meant so much that you thought of me.
Add an Article with a Simple Note
If you receive a subscription to a traditional magazine, or pick them up in the store, cutting out articles, images and quotes is a fun way to connect with a friend, family member or colleague.
I keep my eyes open for relevant articles I can take out of the magazine and enclose in a card. Maybe the article is something helpful to their life situation or something to bring laughter.
When I send cards to my nephews, I include stickers, coloring page, a joke, or something else they will be entertained by. I don’t know how much they want to know about my life, but I know they love receiving small gifts in the mail!
Send Non-Holiday Cards
I love the phrasing of ‘send non-holiday cards.’ It’s from Lauren Vanderkam, time management researcher and author of books such as Off the Clock and one of my personal favorite fable books, Juliet’s School of Possibilities. On one of her podcast episodes, Send Non-Holiday Cards Now, she encourages readers to send non-holiday cards with printed pictures (if available) as a way of connecting with family and friends, especially those people we are unable to see.
My youngest sister has taken this to a new level. She started writing her friends when in-person school stopped to stay connected. She now has many, many letters that will be a special treasure to look at in the years to come.
Sending cards and letters is a wonderful, tangible way to let people know you are thinking of them and wishing them well.
Using Cards to Encourage the People You Don’t Normally Thank
A word of encouragement is a big deal, especially to people who don’t normally receive thanks.
A few ideas of sending cards to brighten someone else’s day:
- Your doctor or the staff who was especially friendly or helpful
- The pastor at church or the Sunday School
- The manager of a retails store where you received extra helpful service (while it’s nice to get a letter of thanks, it’s even better if your boss gets a letter of thanks about you!)
Who do you interact with that, although not a part of your social or family circles, has a positive influence on an aspect of your life? Sending a card with a few brief sentences is a wonderful way to show appreciation
Naturally, since I have a stationery line (with more coming out soon, are you on the mailing list?) I’m biased towards writing cards. They are small pieces of art brightening up someone else’s life.
But whether you use stationery you’ve purchased from me or dig out the box of cards in the desk drawer, I hope this article encourages you to connect with people in your life through the tangible, personal and generous act of sending a card!