Dear Charlotte

Dear Charlotte,

I once wrote a letter a day for 40 days. Give or take a few days. During the season of Lent I gifted myself (some would say burdened) with writing a handwritten, snail mail note to someone.

Tangible, real words. Pen to paper. Honest. Raw. Letters. 

From a desire to reconnect with friends and family to the daily discipline of writing, to a love of all things stationery, writing a letter a day seemed liked the perfect antidote to living a fast-paced, connected-yet not-connected life.

Writing dwells in my bones.

Perhaps passed down from my grandparents and parents. Perhaps from anyone in my family who ever wrote a letter. My mom, too, carries notebooks with her. She writes quotes down that inspire her. She writes poems from her experiences at McDonald’s for breakfast or staring at a piece of art at the Art Gallery. In her home there is a closet full of writings from her father which include a handwritten manuscript.

So many words from both of them that tell of a love for the written word.   

It is this love of writing and love of the written word that I hope will be passed on to you, dear daughter. I have always loved mail. I love writing letters. I love receiving letters. I love everything about mail - stamps, colored pens, stickers on the envelope, writing the address, and all the beautiful stationery.

While in The Gambia for the Peace Corps I loved looking at the pile of letters I would write in one month. Yes, I only received mail once a month for those two years. And what a glorious day it was on mail-run day! The letters I wrote and received in Africa sustained me. My mom particularly, as well as my dad and friends, wrote so many letters. Everyone knew about my mom and her letters and packages. From my fellow Americans to my African village, everyone loved my mom’s packages full of thoughtfulness. I still have all the letters I received. Placed in boxes, a history of life at home. A window into a life that seems both so distant and so close.

I hope you, Charlotte, know the power of words.
The hope of a letter.
The flutter of joy seeing your name on an envelope.
I hope, too, you’ll know the healing found in letter writing.
The power of sharing the simpleness of a day and the life-changing experiences that shape us.

I have a penpal still to this day. We began writing while in elementary school. A pen pal program existed that connected kids across the country. Annika is her name. She lives in North Dakota. A fellow Lutheran. Someone who loved the art of letter writing as much as me. I still have her letters. Her history and life wrapped in the words. I imagine she still has my letters. A treasure of hopes and dreams, crushes and heartbreaks, family dinners and holiday celebrations. Our lives unfolding one letter at a time. Each of us making sense of our lives, one letter at a time.

Charlotte, I hope you will have writing partners throughout your life. People who will inspire you, teach you, and love you. I hope you’ll always go back to pen and paper. When you need to understand yourself and your world, go to pen and paper. Honor your thoughts and dreams and hopes. Find comfort in your words and the words of others. I hope you will have a history of a life lived to its fullest from letters and postcards and notes. Boxes overflowing.
Words, words, words.
Holy words.    

Your Letter-Writing Mama