Wednesday, May 25, 2016

He read the letter again, but could not take in any more meaning than he had done the first time and was reduced to staring at the handwriting itself.

One of the best feelings in the world is receiving a piece of mail. I'm not talking about bills or junk mail, but a good old-fashioned, handwritten letter. Whether it's a birthday card or a thank you note, receiving something in the mail from someone I love always brightens my day.

Over the last few years, I have collected a bunch of stationery. TJ Maxx always has such cute little notes for not much money, so every time I see a pack that I like, I snatch it up! A couple of Christmases ago, someone got me my own personalized stationery. They are simple little cards with a black and white striped border, and at the bottom {in yellow, of course}, it says " A Note from Sarah M. Nelson." I absolutely love writing notes on them. But they're almost gone! I guess I'll just need to put it back on my Christmas list...

If you remember back to my first blog post ever, posted back in January, one of my New Year's resolutions was to write more letters and notes to people. While I've kept up on all of my thank you notes as I need to write them, I haven't really kept up on writing letters or notes just because.

That's going to change this summer. I've already written one "just because" letter to a friend, earlier this week, but there are many more where that came from.

I'll be away from most of my friends this summer. Friends from school went home or stayed in Iowa City, and friends from home are all of doing their own thing.

I think there's something really special about a handwritten letter, a piece of mail that comes to you from somewhere else. In a time of texting, email, and social media, knowing that someone took the time to sit down and write you a letter means so much. It's such a special feeling to know someone thought of you and sat down to hand write a letter.

Not that texting and email and social media are all bad. There's something to be said about the convenience and easiness of sending a quick text or email or announcing something special on Facebook for everyone far away to see. I see value in these quick, modern tools that many are wary of. They have their uses, and I value them for those uses. However, there is a proper time to write a letter and put it in the mail.

Not only is writing a letter to someone a great way to show them how special they are to you, it's also a great creative outlet. Writing a letter, doodling on it, finding cute stamps, decorating the envelope -- all of these are great ways to relax and decompress while also making a kind gesture to someone you love.

Remember the days of elementary school when your class was paired up with another, and you were matched up with a pen pal from another class? Getting those letters every week was so exciting! Learning the basics of writing a friendly letter is one of the greatest skills I think we can teach, and I know it's one of the most valuable things I've ever learned.

First we start off with the date and location. Some people like to save letters, so it's great for them to remember when they got it and where it came from. Plus, it's so cool to realize everywhere in the world you have received letters from!

Then we move onto the greeting. Whether you start off with "Dear so and so" or "Hello!" or "My Dearest," start off the tone of the letter with a great greeting that fits the receiver.

The opening comes next. If the letter is in response to another letter, start off by answering any questions, or just make general small talk like you would in a regular conversation. You can also ask general questions here, too!

Now we've come to the body of the letter. This is where you give your big news if your writing a personal letter to someone you're close with. If this is a pen pal you've never met, maybe you put some of your personal interest or other general information about yourself. Write freely, just as you would in conversation with this person. Don't think of the letter as a barrier between you; it's simply a different mode of conversation!

Once you've finished off the body, move onto the conclusion. This is where you leave the letter off and add in a warm wish if you'd like.

At the bottom comes the goodbye. Sign off with a "Sincerely," "Love," or "All the best, followed by your name or nickname or whatever you want to go by. As you may have noticed, I sign off every blog post with "Lots of love," because every blog post comes from the heart.

An optional final piece is the post script. Include any afterthoughts or funny little tidbits here.

I hope this has helped remind you how to write a friendly letter, and I especially hope this has inspired you to write a letter of your own to someone!

If you're feeling extra creative when writing your letter, add some fun doodles or decorations to your letter or envelope. I love to write calligraphy, so writing the address in calligraphy is a fun little thing I like to do. I read somewhere that for business letters, you write the return address in the upper left corner on the front of the envelope, but if it's a personal letter, you put the return address on the back of the envelope above the seal.

Do you like to write letters or notes? Who do you write to? Why do you like handwriting letters and notes? I would love to hear from you! Happy letter writing!

Lots of love,

J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"