My family moved nine times before I was fifteen which meant that every couple of years I left my school and friends behind in one town and began the adventure of making new friends in the next one.
I can call it an adventure now, although that’s not really how I felt at the time, especially when I reached my teenage years. In sixth grade my best friend was Lynn. We spent countless hours playing with barbie dolls, spying on her older sisters, and teasing my younger brother. I’m not proud of the spying or the teasing, but hey we were 12.
I thought my world had ended when my mom and dad broke the news that we were moving from Aberdeen, South Dakota to Waterloo, Iowa. Lynn and I vowed to keep in touch through the mail and an occasional phone call; a promise that we kept until we both went away to college. Somehow we both got too busy and the time between letters grew longer and longer, until one day they just stopped.
Our letters always started with a salutation that was about three lines long because we had so many silly nicknames for each other. We shared our innermost secrets and wrote about the boys we “just liked,” “squiggly underline liked,” or “double squiggly underlined and explanation point liked.”
I couldn’t wait to open the mailbox to see if a letter had arrived. If there wasn’t a letter from Lynn, chances were good that there might be one from my Great Grandmother who wrote like she talked, with an accent. Windy was “vindee,” which might not have made sense to anyone else, but I knew exactly what she meant and heard her voice in my head.
I saved all of the letters in a scrapbook, which sadly is no-where to be found. It disappeared somehow during my move from Omaha to Pennsylvania. I would love to have them still, both for the memories and because they might have a clue that would help me find my friend Lynn somewhere online.
One of the things I think is great about social networks is that it makes it so much easier for people to keep in touch. If we’d been besties in the day of social media, email, and cell phones I have no doubt that Lynn and I would still be in contact.
Social networks and emails are great for keeping in touch, but they can lack is the personal touch that is present in a handwritten letter. I don’t know about you, while I enjoy exchanging emails with people and it does make it easier to stay in touch, it’s not quite as much fun as opening the mail box and seeing a letter personally addressed to you.
I spend quite a bit of time on various social platforms as a part of my job. In my world it’s an important and valuable way to network and generate business. It’s definitely helped me expand my professional network, but it’s also expanded my personal one. I’m amazed at how many genuine people I’ve met who have similar interests to mine and a willingness to share.
It’s not uncommon to meet someone online and have that relationship extend to a “real-world” interaction. One of my favorite stories about this phenomena took place in April, which is the National Letter Writing Month. I didn’t know that either.
One of my Google Plus friends, Jennifer Broderick is passionate about writing letters and notes. She’s been writing and sending handwritten letters to friends and family since she was a little girl. She shares her passion with others by creating beautiful cards and stationery.
She presented our circle of Google Plus friends with a challenge and an opportunity. Jennifer promised to send each of us a sample of her unique work in exchange for a handwritten letter. Many of us responded and she received letters from people close by and as far away as Wales.
I sent my letter to her on some fun stationery of my own and waited with anticipation to receive my letter back. I have to say I was blown away when I opened the envelope. Inside was a package of stationery wrapped in light teal tissue paper and topped of with a soft ribbon bow. Jennifer’s calling card made the gift-wrap complete.
Inside the tissue was a sample of her stationery, as promised. What made it more special than I anticipated was that it was obvious the designs she sent me were chosen just for me. She remembered the comments I made about one of her new series, “Stick Your Neck Out,” and how much I liked it.
She also included a note card decorated with a butterfly and small flowers in two of my favorite colors. I frequently use pink and green in my artwork and my doodles are filled with butterflies and flowers.
Last but not least, she included a lovely handwritten letter back to me. She shared about her love of art and writing letters as well as a lovely childhood memory. I was so touched it brought tears to my face.
Jennifer’s challenge was a wonderful reminder about the beauty of a handwritten letter. Just a few words on a note can brighten someone’s day.
If you’re now in the market for stationery, check out Jennifer’s work at StationTEEN.