I've often come this close to setting the following New Year's resolution: to handwrite one letter on paper each week to someone who has done/written/created/said something that I've enjoyed/admired/appreciated. (I have to say "handwrite one letter on paper" because I'm a lawyer, and we all know that a really good lawyer might just say that writing an email, you know, by typing it with your hands, constitutes a handwritten letter, but for this project, it doesn't.)
Thanks to the internet, I think it's possible to find addresses for most people these days, even if it's just a publicist's address, a publisher's address, or even a fan mail address. And of course you can always write letters to people you know, like your high school English teacher or your neighbor who keeps a really tidy yard.
I actually started writing one of these letters the other night to Jake Gyllenhaal of all people after watching Love & Other Drugs. Why? Well, first of all I'd had a couple of glasses of wine. But second, although I'd never really been a big Jake fan before, I thought he did a really great job in the movie, and I wanted to tell him that. (I also wanted to ask him whose strange idea it had been to play the Grey's Anatomy-esque music at the end of the movie.) Anyway, I never did complete this letter or send it, but you see where I'm going here. I just think it'd be a fun project--writing 52 letters of appreciation, or admiration, or whatever you want to call them--not necessarily expecting anything in return but just as a way to share encouraging, supportive words with someone else for something he/she did. It sounds pretty Oprah, I know, but I'm on the cusp of committing to this idea.
And to completely let my nerd flag fly here, what I think would be even more fun would be to commit to this idea with a group of other people, you know, so that we could compare notes and share the names of the people we're writing and the reasons for writing them (or maybe even share some of the letters we write). Who knows, maybe some of us might get interesting responses; maybe some of us might find that this project boosts our own spirits or increases our appreciation for the work of others; or maybe some of us will just find the project to be overly time-consuming and difficult to complete. I don't know, but I'm interested to find out. Do I have any takers here? Maybe even just for one letter a month--a 12-letter project rather than a 52-letter project? Mom? Come on, I know I can count on you at least. If you're even the slightest bit interested, please let me know. You can leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com.
I already know that my first letter will be to Charles Martin, who wrote The Mountain Between Us, which I stayed up until 3:30 in the morning reading last night because I just had to find out what happened at the end. I seriously couldn't put it down. Great read. And of course I'm loving the dark circles under my eyes today, too. Yeah, thanks a lot, Charles.
And to kick off this letter-writing party, I thought I'd boost your spirits with these beauties.
My niece sent me this letter last week from camp. (I'm Auntie Nantie.) Letters from camp are the best.
And my other niece sent this letter to my mom this week from their family beach vacation. (My mom's grandmother name is La La.) I know, this letter is precious, and we're talking about a serious bond between these two. And I didn't include a picture of the envelope (for obvious privacy reasons), but I'll just say that it's a miracle this letter actually made it to its final destination. Thanks, mail-man or -lady. I know that receiving this letter absolutely made my mom's day.
And see? Your letters do not have to be long or complicated to be very effective.
So to recap, here are the guidelines for this project:
1. Let me know if you are in by leaving a comment below or by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. (If I can compile a list of email addresses, then I can share monthly updates about the project with everyone.)
2. Handwrite, on paper, either one letter per month (12-letter project) or one letter per week (52-letter project) to someone who has done something that you appreciate or admire. (Let's keep those critical letters to the editor or to your senator out of this.)
3. Keep a list of the names of the people you write. (Or keep copies of your letters if you're slightly OCD.)
4. Keep track of any responses you receive or any other things that happen as a result of your letter writing (even if it just makes you smile more).
Now let's get this letter writing party started!