Take a Letter

by Tricia Cammerzell, Assistant Head of School for Advancement

I have heard many people lament the lost art of letter writing. Recently, I witnessed how powerful a letter can be. About two weeks ago we asked our teachers to work with each student to create a message to send to grandparents and grandfriends. What started out as a systematic idea involving digital photos and an electronic graphic design project turned into a collage of hand-drawn pictures, personal letters and hand-made cards of all shapes and sizes. Every class did something different which made mailing the packages a bit of a challenge. It was worth it.

This excerpted response is from one of the recipients of the hand-made treasures.

I received the most wonderful mail today from your awesome school.  I just want to thank you for having the idea of connecting with grandparents that way. It brought tears to my eyes to receive that sweet letter and photo. Also the turkey artwork was just so creative.

I live in Alabama and don’t get to see my grandchildren that often, especially now with this pandemic. Receiving that slice of their life was so awesome for me.

. . . And thank you again for the extra effort that was put into preparing and sending that Thanksgiving connection envelope to me.  As a former educator I know the extra work and time that was involved in making  that happen on top of the regular workload of the teachers.  It was greatly enjoyed and appreciated. 

This note really crystallizes the power of a letter for me. You can imagine her holding it to her heart, reading it again and then tucking it in somewhere safe to gaze at again and again. She’s keeping this letter.

We all know the convenience of a witty text or a shared Instagram photo. It gives a minute of pleasure as noted by an emoji response.  But I am not holding my phone to my heart, savoring a heartfelt feeling. I am moving on. Let’s get back to letter writing. I am old enough to have communicated with friends and boyfriends through letters in my college days. Time on the single pay phone in our dorm hall was scarce and usually reserved for calls with parents or to make a call to ask a date to a dance. So, we wrote letters telling stories, sharing jokes and asking for a letter back. I don’t think we were very poetic or prophetic but it sure was fun to go to your mailbox and see a letter waiting.

Here we are in a global pandemic when connecting with our loved ones is more difficult than ever. Zoom is a wonderful tool and it is great to see the faces and hear the voices of our family and friends but it is a distant second to the physical connection. For one thing, only one person can speak at a time. How often does that happen in your family? For another, you can’t keep it. You can’t hold it to your heart. The call ends and everyone scatters. We move on.

There have been a few COVID fads in recent months like sourdough bread or Peloton. I think it’s time to start a letter writing fad, only let’s make a trend. We are all longing for family to be near. Write a letter. Let someone know you love them. Share stories or jokes and ask for a letter back.

I guess you can count me among those who now lament the lost art of letter writing. I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to write a letter, or two. 

Now, I have to buy some stamps.

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