There’s something wonderfully comforting about letter writing – the physical act of actually writing with a pen rather than tapping and swiping a screen; thinking about the words, the emotions, the feelings. In this time of lockdown my Tribe has embraced this slow form of communication (well, the girls have!). The Littlest has 3 penpals of varying ages including a young woman who has been in hospital for some time; the chatter of the Littlest’s letters to her are so innocent and I believe help her when she is feeling vulnerable and alone. There is someone somewhere thinking about her. GD recently sent out a message to her school friends asking if any of them would like to receive a letter from her whilst they are unable to see each other – she was inundated with addresses and I have spent a fortune on stamps!! She came downstairs the first time that she’d written a bundle of letters and said how much she’d enjoyed writing them – I think that she was surprised at how much she had got out of it! She had also found some sealing wax and an old stamp, so her envelopes are quite distinctive.
The Eldest has been writing letters since she was first in hospital – the Littlest was rather envious of the amount of post that she received and worked out that if you write letters, more than likely you’ll get letters back! The letters the Eldest receives and has received are a real source of comfort when she is so far away from family and friends; the words of encouragement, kindness, compassion and just the ordinary stuff of life help in so many ways. Many of the letters she sends and receives are highly decorative with drawings, stickers, washi tape – they are objects of beauty.
What the Tribe have learnt is that delicious anticipation, waiting for a letter to arrive. Being at home all the time now, the Littlest knows EXACTLY when our postman is due and she drops everything in her ‘home school’ (the kitchen table) to dash out to pick the post up. She has just returned now complaining that there’s nothing for her but there is for her sister! When she does get a letter her joy is palpable.
I have been passionate about letter writing all my life, but over recent years have had that age old excuse of ‘not having the time’ and resorted to using email to keep in touch; it never felt the same, always feeling lazy and less personal. So now I too have returned to writing. Sorting through some old crates recently I found letters from when I first lived in London – they are an interesting (!) record of my life at different stages; some of them are very funny, some of events that I’d completely forgotten and some are from friends I have lost touch with over the years. Perhaps now is a time that I will reconnect with them. What amazes me is that even after all this time, there is some handwriting that I can still recognise, knowing exactly who it belongs to.
During this period of isolation, where kindness and consideration are so important, letter writing is a simple gesture that can bring so much joy and can provide a real lifeline for people. It is something everyone can do from the very youngest – just a hand drawn picture can be sent – and there are no rights or wrongs; spellings and grammar are not as important as the content itself. Once a letter has been opened and read, it can be returned to again and again and again. It is there forever, long after it was written.