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by Holly Kirtley
Around this time of year, I spend quite a bit of time reminiscing. I watch and re-watch old Christmas specials that I remember from my childhood and bake the same cookie recipe my sisters and I would decorate each year for Santa. We laugh over our favorite holiday stories and then start to play “Where Are They Now?” as we receive Christmas cards and letters from old friends and acquaintances. Christmas is a great reason to remind us to keep in touch, but it’s sad when it’s the only time we hear from distant friends and relatives. December is Write a Friend Month and I invite you to participate in one of these projects to keep in touch!
Option #1: Put a Stamp On It!
I have grown up in the e-mail era and am far more comfortable with keyboards and mouses than I am with stamps and envelopes. And even though I was taught in school how to address envelopes and the difference between a personal and business letter, I had to Google the appropriate format the last time I needed to send out my resume. I may check my e-mail every thirty minutes, but I have to force myself to check my physical mailbox every week. I am so shocked whenever I find an actual piece of mail (that’s not a wedding invitation, baby announcement, or bill) it usually results in me writing a thank you note! Mail is becoming a thing of the past, but when you really want to let someone know you care, put an actual stamp on it! Whatever is inside the envelope is up to you, but letting someone know you care enough to lick an envelope, buy a stamp, and put something in the mailbox means a lot.
Option #2: Write a Memory!
This is my latest favorite gift idea. We are collecting memories and stories for my boss for Christmas and hope to give her “A Year of Memories” in 52 envelopes so she can read one a week for all of 2012. We asked her friends, family members, and co-workers (past and present) to take just a moment to write down one of their favorite memories and send them to us. They are coming in the mail and by e-mail and the stories are great. Some are hysterical, some are touching, some are inside jokes, but they are all great memories. I cannot wait to give them to her at our annual Christmas party. But you don’t have to have a collection of memories, you could just write a single memory and send it to a friend. Imagine getting a letter or e-mail describing a special moment in your friendship and how great you would feel. Share the love and write a memory!
Option #3: Don’t Waste a Minute!
A mentor of mine carries around blank cards with him wherever he goes. He has extra stashes in his car, in his office, in his wife’s purse, everywhere. Then any time he is waiting for anything, he fills his spare time writing appreciation notes to his volunteers. Apply this same theory to keeping in touch with your friends. Waiting in line at the DMV? Drop a quick text to your sister. Stuck on hold? Write your college roommate an e-mail. Is your ride late to pick you up? Jot a note to your best friend. Take advantage of this otherwise wasted time to keep in touch!
Extra Credit: Plan Ahead!
If you hate only staying in touch in December, then you should plan ahead to stay in touch year round. While you’re addressing your Christmas cards, go ahead and put the same address on a second envelope. Drop your cards in the mail and divide the second stack of envelopes into eleven stacks and label them January through November. Put a reminder on your calendar at the beginning, middle and end of each month to nudge you into action. Then whenever you have a spare moment (like in Option #3) write a note and pop it in the mail. I think our culture believes that a letter has to be a certain length, written on special personalized stationary and mailed in a matching envelope with a seasonally-appropriate stamp. I have to tell you though, my favorite piece of mail I ever received was an inside joke scribbled on a scrap of brown paper bag, tucked inside a plain business envelope and mailed to me in May with a Christmas tree stamp. (Seriously, it used to hang on the bulletin board in my office!) Keeping in touch is about letting someone know you care, whether it’s on a scrap piece of paper or a beautiful stationary, and we should all take advantage of Write a Friend month to send love to our friends and family.