Tuesday, 1 December 2015


It has been a while since I wrote a letter to somebody. But for years I exchanged them with friends until, with the advent of email, writing letters became more of a rarity with longer and longer periods in between. I never took a decision to stop writing letters, but it happened all the same. And emails never replaced the joy of opening the postbox and finding a handwritten letter with your name on it, physical evidence that you had been somebody's undivided center of attention.

Recently we had to empty some shelves at home and I found a couple boxes full with old letters. A huge bunch of colourful envelopes of all sorts and sizes from a magnificent variety of people, including friends, siblings, parents and cousins. And spanning many years from as early as 1990, which is when I first went to England on my own until pretty much a couple of years ago. Just imagine the joy of rereading what was sent to me twenty or twenty five years ago! Rediscovering things that had long been forgotten. Savouring the choice of papers, admiring the myriad stamps and, at times, struggling to decipher the one or the other word or sentence. Did this or that joke have a second meaning at the time?

Many letters from special senders were nicely and meticulously packed by year. Others, mostly Christmas cards ans postcards, were just piled ones of top of others waiting to be sorted. For years. That is, until last week.

It is literally impossible to find such a treasure and leave it aside without opening the one or the other envelope. And once you start, it gets addictive! While rereading a couple of letters of somebody that I met 19 years ago, I was made aware that her birthday was just less than a week away. Normally these days this would have been a case for a hastily taken photo and a quick email message. But then, fortunately, I paused a few seconds to think. Would it not be best to return some of the joy I had just had? So I sat down in the kitchen and wrote a fully fledged letter. Two A4's pages. Double sided. Which, with my small handwriting, means a fair amount of catching up and, I'm pretty sure of this, an unexpected surprise for her.

So this got me thinking, would it not be great if this year I send letters to some dear friends besides the electronic greetings? Even better, would it not be fantastic if I convince others to follow suit and send letters as well? Not just to me, but to whoever they want to. This would spread the joy to many others. These days of social networks many things get viral, so why not this? Well, if you ask me, definitely worth trying...

And then I had yet another idea, what would my friends feel if I pick up one of their letters from twenty years ago and I send them along with mine? I know I would certainly like to receive copies of old letters of mine, and if anybody ever kept them and happens to be reading this, by all means, please go ahead!. I never kept a diary so this would be the closest to it, reading the thoughts of the younger me (or lack thereof!).

Right, the challenge is out, the hashtag is there, spread the message to your loved ones and, above everything else, #WritealetterthisXmas.

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