Preamble: I was exploring my jewelry box yesterday, sorting through various bits of jewelry from my childhood and more recent adult years. I have a strange tendency to drop things like ticketstubs and interesting bits of paper into my jewelry box for safe keeping, and as I was sorting through some of the stuff, I came across a letter. It was a letter from my late grandfather. It was only a paragraph, written when I was ten. It follows what appears to be an instance of broken headphones and apologies on my part, which I don't remember, but it is hand-written, in cursive, and ends with "Your Grandma and I love all of you."
I remember, so vaguely, that my mother told me to keep it because one should keep letters, so I tucked it away and haven't looked at it in years. But I'm so grateful that I did, because I don't think I have another single piece of his writing anywhere, and certainly nothing else addressed to me. It's given me food for thought: so much of what we rely on are fleeting pieces of prose. A holiday card where the lady of the house signs for everyone else. A printed letter with only a signature at the bottom. An email. A phone call. Invisible and transient things. Convenient things.
My Challenge to You:
Write a letter to your parents, or your children, or your siblings. If you have children or grandchildren, especially do this, because it's a special thing these days to have a letter from someone you love.
Write it by hand, on blank white paper (not college rule or notebook sheets.) It's okay if your lines are a little crooked, and it doesn't have to be in cursive if, like me, you haven't used cursive since you were eleven.
Ask, somewhere in your letter, for them to reply in kind. Not by phone or email, but written in ink.
Put in an envelope and fully address it to the family member you're writing to. Seal it. If they share your house, slip it under their door or leave it somewhere it will be found. If they live elsewhere, stamp it and mail it.
The thing to remember here is that you're not writing a letter for someone's birthday, or for a religious holiday, or for any forced cultural reason. Write something just for them. Doesn't have to be clever, just has to be from you.