How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Doesn’t it feel great when we receive a love letter? A letter written from the heart, something that we can hold on to and cherish. Writing letters is a dying art. When we hosted a foreign exchange student from Columbia, South America, he would receive love letters from his girlfriend that smelled like perfume and had lipstick kisses on the paper. Soldiers used to write letters home to their loved ones. I have the letters that my uncle sent home to his mom and dad when he was stationed in Vietnam. It’s still important to write love letters to our spouses, parents, and children.
Brett Shoemaker wrote a letter to his future wife and he didn’t even know her name yet. He wanted her to know that she was already beautiful, that she was a princess worth fighting for and that their fairy tale will happen but it won’t go from ‘one upon a time’ to ‘happy ever after’. Sometimes there might be a battle that goes on in the middle chapters, although through love, patience, communication, and the grace of God, they are going to win. He signed his letter, Prince Charming.
Dr. Kelly Flanagan wrote a letter to his little girl about her future husband. He addresses it to Dear Cutie Pie, and lets her know that her only task is to know deeply in her soul, in that unshakeable place that isn’t rattled by rejection and loss and ego that she is worthy of interest. He ends his letter saying that he doesn’t care if her future husband was raised in this religion or that religion or no religion as long as he was raised to value the sacred and to know every moment in life, and every moment of life with his daughter, is deeply sacred. If she stumbles across a man like that and he and her father have nothing else in common, they will have the most important thing in common, his daughter.
Start by writing a little note or motivational message and put it in your spouses or child’s lunchbox. When I was in college my mom sent a little note each week, sometimes enclosing a couple dollars for milk and bread. When my aunt was going through cancer treatments my mother would send her an inspirational card weekly. We wrote letters to our children went they went to camp. Write a letter to your child or grandchild every year on their birthday recapping the highlights of the year. Write a note to a friend and let them know how much you value their friendship.
Writing can be therapeutic and good for the soul. People who are at turning points in their lives, facing challenging situation and at transitional life stages, need to write as well as engaged couples, divorcing couples, expectant and new parents. People also write on milestone birthdays, when diagnosed with a terminal illness, at the end of their life.
On your parent’s anniversary write them a note and let them that they were a good role model for you or on your anniversary write your spouse a love letter. Maybe the top ten reasons on why you make a great team; remind them of all of the reasons that you fell in love with them.
On mother’s day write your mother a letter and let her know what lessons she taught you. The same for father’s day, what lessons did you learn from your father?
Write a letter to your children. When our daughters graduated from high school we wrote each of them a letter. Rebecca’s letter ended with, “We are so proud of you and the young woman that you have become. You are well-rounded and grounded in faith, family and friends. You’re a natural leader. Everything has to have an element of fun. You can speak Spanish, play an instrument and read music, are athletic and have maintained a high grade point average. You have a can do attitude. You, Rebecca Rose can do anything if you put your mind to it and we couldn’t be prouder.”
According to Rachael Freed, founder of Life-Legacies, we write to belong, to be known, to be remembered, to be needed, to make a difference, to bless and be blessed and to celebrate life. The most important letter that you ever write may be your ethical spiritual will. A written legacy to future generations to pass on your history, identity, values, love, stories and wisdom to those you love.
Don’t wait to start writing, start today by writing something, even if it’s just a little note. Let’s bring back the dying art of letter writing.
Published in The Eau Claire Journal ~ February 2016