The hospital volunteer told me, “I’m not as busy as I used to be. My assignment is to deliver mail to patients. Years ago, that kept me carrying letters to rooms all over this building. Now though, people don’t write as many personal letters.”
As a communication consultant, I haven’t talked recently about the value of personal letters. But I’m doing that now because I thought about how letters can immeasurably brighten the reader’s day. Consider these examples of the impact of personal letters:
The child at camp, struggling with homesickness, receives a letter from home. Suddenly he or she practically smells a home-cooked meal and hears the sound of loving voices.
For college students, letters ease the burden of exams, career decisions and roommate conflicts.
Anybody who has served in the armed services knows the excitement of every “mail call” that included words from home in familiar handwriting.
Letters make life’s happy milestones more memorable. Both instantly and years later, we love to read: “Congratulations on your promotion.” “We had so much fun visiting your new home.” “Enjoy your newfound retirement freedom.”
Letters express comfort and care at a level that emails or text messages can’t reach. My spirits rise when every now and then I read the condolence letters from friends sent shortly after the memorial service for my beloved family member almost three years ago.
For these reasons and more, I encourage all of us to get away from computer correspondence long enough to compose letters to family, friends, new acquaintances, long-absent colleagues and even strangers who need our good words.
Just think — wouldn’t it be great if more people reignited this habit and your mailbox contained hand-addressed, handwritten letters? To make that happen, send personalized letters regularly, and you’ll begin to get some of those treasured letters yourself.
To submit a letter
Send by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include name and hometown. Letters never publish anonymously. Letters are limited to 500 words on topics of public interest and may be edited for content and length. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Letters may be rejected from readers with no ties to Northeast Georgia or that address personal, business or legal disputes. Letters not the work of the author listed or with material not properly attributed will be rejected. Letter writers may hyperlink portions of their letters to sources of their information. Letters and other commentary express the opinions of the authors and not of The Times.