Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

One Quick Way to Spread Love


Image by Pablo Rochat for The New York Times

These are hard times we’re in right now. Many of us feel anxious, even angry, depressed, and scared. We could all use a little more love. You know one easy and pretty fast way to spread love and make yourself and someone else feel better?

Send some snail mail! Sure, it’s easy to fire off a quick text or email or Facebook message, but taking the time and effort to hand write a message on paper, stick it in an envelope, address it, stamp it, and drop it in the mail sends an additional message of love and care because time and effort is a way of expressing those feelings. Plus, physical notes — cards, letters, newspaper clippings, etc. — can all be touched and saved and shared and visited again in a way a digital message can’t. For example, my grandmother passed away a couple weeks ago and in addition to the many cards and letters she sent me over the years, including the very last birthday card she’d ever send me, just last month, in which she could only manage to write one single work (“love”), she also left behind a large collection of cards and letters and photos and newspaper clippings she’d saved over the decades. My aunt just sent me a few of these items she thought I’d especially like, including some cards I’d sent my grandmother over the years and some articles about my grandfather when he won writing contests in his youth. My grandmother never had a cell phone or an email address or a Facebook page, and in her final years she was nearly deaf, so all of our correspondence was through snail mail, and I feel lucky now to have so many words between us I can revisit and touch and remember.

From an article in The New York Times yesterday about the importance of snail mail (which has decreased 50% in the past decade):

“Whereas emails are something to rush through on the way to Inbox Zero, cards and letters are something to cherish; to set on a desk, to stick to a fridge, to bind into a book for future generations. In the digital age, we are “assaulted by a barrage of information — much of it having little or no importance,” Florence Isaacs wrote in her book “Just a Note to Say.” “Yet personal words on paper often are saved in a shoe box, becoming a memory to be revisited through the years.”

And this:

“Saeideh Heshmati, assistant professor of positive psychology at Claremont Graduate University, recently researched what makes people “feel loved.” She found that “small gestures in everyday life,” like people supporting you without expecting anything back or showing compassion during tough times, were what participants most agreed upon as “loving.”

Since cards require more effort than email, Ms. Heshmati said recipients will likely ‘feel more loved because you took the time to do that for them.’ She added, ‘It’s the care that comes with it that signals the love.’

Like most of us, I don’t send as much snail mail as I used to. But I’m always happy to receive the occasional “real” mail amidst the bills and flyers and catalogs. It’s like a hug; it brightens my day.

I have a pen pal I’ve had since 1999 who sends me more snail mail than anyone else, and Drew is always so impressed when yet another card arrives from her. “Maybe one day I’ll meet this friend who sends the best letters,” he always says. Maybe one day I will be more like her. Maybe one day can be sooner than later. I am issuing myself a challenge and maybe you’d like to do the same: Send one additional piece of snail mail every month for the next year that you would not normally send, such as a postcard to an old roommate letting her know you were thinking of her; an inexpensive book for a child in your life; a birthday card instead of a Facebook message. Make it easy on yourself and order a pack of all-occasion cards (thank you! birthday! hello! congrats!) and a book of stamps so you’re ready whenever the opportunity of inspiration strikes. Get some pretty stationery. Update your address book.

And if you need some inspiration for people to write to, check out More Love Letters or Operation Gratitude. Also:

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
c/o Palo Alto University
1791 Arastradero Rd.
Palo Alto, CA 94304

Just saying.

8 comments… add one
  • avatar

    JD October 10, 2018, 12:35 pm

    I am a big fan of snail mail and don’t see myself ever stopping. I love receiving cards as well. Luckily my family all send cards. My dear friend was in rehab, sadly, and I sent him a card every week. Months later I found them all in a stack when I went to his house. He had kept every single one.

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  • avatar

    Ange October 10, 2018, 6:14 pm

    I don’t do much snail mail these days but one of my friends adores receiving postcards from new places. As I travel so much for work and otherwise I make sure to send her a postcard from every new place I’ve been, she loves it. My latest one from New Zealand took an unconscionable amount of time to arrive (I’d already been back for 3 weeks, I sent it airmail and it’s a 3 hour flight!) but it’s always worth it when I get her excited message.

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    • avatar

      MissD October 11, 2018, 9:37 am

      I am that friend who demands everyone send me a postcard from each place they travel! Lol

      My boyfriend travels A LOT for work (like a new country at least once a month, sometimes twice a month) and he used to always send me postcards each time. Now that we’re living together he brings me back wine or chocolate lol. Even better!

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      • avatar

        JD October 11, 2018, 10:25 am

        My ex, with the faults, after 15 years would still send me a postcard every time he left town. It was a small thing that i just loved.

        My best friend has some ongoing joke where he brings me flip flops from every place. It’s become this silly thing. Now he finds the oddest, ugliest pair to bring to me. So if anyone needs ugly flip flops I have tons. Haha.

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  • avatar

    TheHizzy October 11, 2018, 7:43 am

    The post office has started to lose more mail than I’d care to share as of recent. I’m not sure why. Mail I have mailed, and mail people have sent to me.

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    • avatar

      Kate October 11, 2018, 9:40 am

      I was supposed to get a stitch fix last Tuesday (9 days ago), and there’s literally no indication of where it is. It arrived somewhere on the 28th and then went into oblivion, according to the USPS tracking site. Which, fine, I can see what they picked out for me on the site and I wouldn’t keep any of it anyway, but uh… ??

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      • avatar

        Kate October 11, 2018, 9:41 am

        I mean it’s “in transit.” For almost 2 weeks now.

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      • avatar

        TheHizzy October 11, 2018, 10:13 am

        Yes!

        I was told by my friend to have the post office hand cancel my wedding invites when it comes that time. I mailed something to her (she’s 3 blocks away) and it never arrived. It’s been MONTHS.

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