Welcome to a new year – full of good intentions. May at least some of them survive the first week!
I have written a very short list this year – if one item can be called a list. I have simply promised (myself) to write to my friends and family – on real old-fashioned paper, put in a real old-fashioned envelope and stamped with a real o-f stamp and popped in the post. Letter number 1 is already on its way – so at least week 1 has some positive evidence. I’m not doing this in order to prompt a reply – rather, just to do something joyful and more lasting than an email. (I can’t tweet – don’t ask me…)
All this makes me wonder what other ‘resolutions’ have set people off on a mission (so to speak). There are the old ones – like giving up cigarettes (I don’t smoke) giving up being nasty (hope I don’t ever need to confess to that one) or ‘being a better person’ (whatever that entails) – most of which are forgotten as soon as the Christmas decorations are down. But a positive resolution (just as long as it doesn’t involve a gym) is probably more achievable. I’d like to write one letter a week – say, 50 before next Christmas (and I’m not counting post cards) so I will be supporting the post office if nothing else.
My mother used to write to her mother every week, receiving a letter by return. In the days before email and cheap phone calls, when a visit entailed two long bus rides and a train journey, and Norfolk seemed to be as far away as the moon, this was a practical and rewarding habit – which, to my benefit, she continued with me – writing to me when I left home for college and never stopping a fairly regular correspondence right up to the age of about 80. I came across some of her letters the other day. They weren’t exactly the stuff of memoirs, but a relationship shone from the page – she clearly knew what I was doing and was wishing me well. Looking back, I’m not sure I realised what that meant when I was in my twenties – but now, waving my own children off after the Christmas holidays, wishing them well, enjoying seeing their lives – from one remove, perhaps, but with genuine love and appreciation of who they are, I see a little better that long ago relationship, written out on small sheets of paper and folded in an envelope – a capsule of something very important, now confined to memory. Here is one of her very early efforts, written when she was about 9, to her grandmother 🙂 (Please note: in those days one could bank on a post card reaching home before you!)
So, here is a plea for the old-fashioned letter. Why not pick up your pen and write one yourself. You never know what that might mean to the recipient(s). Send a little light out into the January darkness. Go on. Do it.