Friday, December 31, 2010

Letter #365 -- The last one of the year

If you started this project back on Jan. 1, 2010, on that day you wrote a letter to yourself to be opened on this day, Dec. 31, 2010. So, dig around and find that letter, read it and think about it. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Are you on track, or did you decide that was the wrong direction and now you're on to something new? Have you changed? Write a letter today, looking back over 2010, reviewing the year and yourself, let someone know what you've accomplished, where you failed and what you're proud of.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Forever Stamps

The U.S. Postal Service has decided to make all forthcoming first-class postage stamps "Forever" stamps. That means that when you buy a first-class stamp, it will be good for "forever" to mail a 1-ounce, first-class domestic piece of mail, even if the postage rate goes up in the future.

You can read more about it here.

Letter #364 -- Plans?

On this next to the last day of 2010, write a letter about your New Year's plans. Not just your New Year's Eve plans for celebrating, but include your plans for 2011. Let someone out there in the world know what you hope to accomplish this coming year.

Letter writing topic for Dec. 30, 2010

Year of the Written Letter

Jenni Parks in Virginia has declared on her blog, Testament to Grace, that this upcoming year 2011 will be the Year of the Written Letter in her household. She has some great reasons for returning to letter writing! Let's wish her well in her endeavor.

The $39 Experiment

I was reading Jessica Armtstrong's "Snail Mail Aficionado" blog and came across her mention of "The $39 Experiment," an interesting and rather funny project by Tom Locke that involved writing 100 letters. It seems that Locke is planning another project, but it's not detailed yet.

Letter #363 -- A tall glass of ______________

What do you like to drink? Down here in Texas, we usually drink iced tea, no matter what the weather outside is. Now, some like it pre-sweetened with sugar -- that's "Sweet Tea" -- and others prefer it unsweetened or artificially sweetened. Another favorite around here is Dr Pepper, a soft drink invented in Waco, Texas, in 1885. Write a letter about what you're drinking.

Combining Good Deeds and Letter Writing

Kimbirdy at the "Fill Your Well" blog recently wrote about how you can use your letter writing passion to brighten someone's day. She lists several organizations that help letter writers send mail to sick children to brighten their days. The blog and the websites are worth your time!

Letter #362 -- On the big screen

What was the last movie you watched? Are you the type to rush down to the theater as soon as a new release comes out? Or, do you wait around till it comes out on DVD or on TV? What types of movies do you prefer? Comedies? Dramas? Action flicks? Write a letter about it.

A tale of pen pals

I recently read an interesting article, "Chinese painting stands witness to renewal of friendship" in the Columbia Missourian. It's a story about long-time pen pals and their struggle to keep in touch.

Letter #361 -- Fido and Fifi

What kind of a pet do you have (or wish you had)? A cat? A dog? A bird? A fish? Something more exotic? Write a letter about your pet. Tell someone why you have that pet.

If you liked "Julie and Julia"...

...then you might just like a new book, "As Always, Julia." The book features the correspondence between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto. It is edited by Joan Reardon. You can read more about the book at the Boston Globe.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mourning Letters?

I recently read an article about a website dedicated to "mourning letters," something I've never heard of. Apparently, Your Leaves Grow Down Into the Earth is a Slovakian blog. It is interesting and has some great scans of old letters and photos.

Letter #360 -- Woo Hoo!

Write a letter about something you're excited about....your new blog, a new toy, a great vintage find you made at the thrift store, the grade you got on your last term paper...look into your life and figure out what excites write about it in a letter.

Garrison Keillor on Letter Writing

Somehow, in all my letter writing research, I've just now come across this essay on "How to Write a Letter" by Garrison Keillor. It is superb, so elegantly written! I found a copy of the essay on Annie Cristina's blog, "My Sweet Old Etcetera."

Here's just a taste of it:

Such a sweet gift - a piece of handmade writing, in an envelope that is not a bill, sitting in our friend's path when she trudges home from a long day spent among wahoos and savages, a day our words will help repair. They don't need to be immortal, just sincere. She can read them twice and again tomorrow: You're someone I care about, Corrine, and think of often and every time I do you make me smile.

Letter #359 -- Share your happiness

Write a letter of hope, peace and joy.

An interesting stamp on the horizon

According to "World Stamp News," in February, India will issue its first cloth stamp. The stamp, to be printed on khadi, will feature a portrait of Mahatma Ghandi.

Letter #358 -- Passing Along the Tradition

Write a letter to a younger relative, sharing with him or her the family tradition of letter writing. Tell them why you like writing and receiving letters. Send along some paper, envelopes, a pen and some stamps, as well as your address. Maybe you'll get a letter in return.

Continuing Discussion on Handwriting

I suppose it is inevitable that cursive handwriting will eventually disappear from our culture. Most schools that I know of do not put a priority on teaching the children to write cursive. So long as what they write is readable and they know how to use a computer, no one cares.

Here's an article from the St. Petersburg Times about handwriting: A disappearing art, cursive writing is part of Florida's script

If you'll notice, over on the right side of the story, about one-third to halfway down the page, is a list of related links. You might find something else there you're interested in, as well.

Letter #357 -- Connecting with an older generation

Write a letter to an older generation. Be respectful yet friendly. Wish them well and fill them in on a little bit of your life. Invite them to write you back and start up a regular correspondence.

Safe Pen Palling

In today's world of scams, identity theft, etc., some people may be concerned about writing letters to a complete stranger, a pen pal, someone they've never met before. This article offers some tips for pen pal safety. There are some good ideas in the article.

Letter #356 -- A long time ago

What is your favorite childhood memory? Do you remember a special birthday? A kind word a teacher said? Your best friend? The way your room looked? Think back and share your favorite childhood memory in a letter.

What a lovely blog!

I just came across "...In Love With Snail Mail," a blog by Nina. She blogs about letters, postcards, etc. And, she has a very nicely designed blog!

Letter #355 -- Oops

Write a letter admitting a mistake you've made. If you need to, write the letter to a person who was affected by your mistake, apologizing, if necessary. On the other hand, if you put salt in your coffee this morning instead of sugar, and you want to share the funny story, write that letter. If you just need to write the mistake down on paper but you don't want anyone to really read it, make this one of those letter you toss in the fireplace after you've written it.

Mail Art

There are some great examples of Mail Art over at the "Pages of Paper" blog. Check it out!

Letter #354 -- I read it in a magazine

Write a letter about your favorite magazine. Do you still get a copy of it in the mail? Why do you like it? If you have a copy to spare, include it with the letter!

About letter writing and more

JoAnna C. writes "A Peachy Life" blog, posting about snail mail, handmade crafts, etc. Visit her blog and see what she's writing about!

Letter #353 -- A winter's memory

As the weather turns colder (in the Northern Hemisphere, where I'm writing from), think of some of your favorite Winter memories. Do you remember building snowmen? Having snowball fights? Bundling up and going for a walk in a winter wonderland? Write about your memories in a letter!

The language of love

"Snail Mail" is #4 on the list of "6 Ways to Say I Love You ... Without Saying It" on the Morning Coach blog. The author of the piece, Rachel Aubrey, says:

With instant communication so prominent, we don’t often get anything in the mail except junk catalogs and bills. Imagine his or her surprise to find a little handwritten note from you arriving at home or work? A little reminder to say you are beautiful / handsome, and appreciated. Maybe include a clipping from something you read on the way to work. A comic. A crossword. Anything that made you smile and think of them. Taking the time to write, stamp, and seal an envelope says you are worth the extra effort. Because you “could have” sent the same message in an easier way.

Letter #352 -- From cyberspace to real-life

Write a letter to someone on your Facebook "Friends" list. Of course, you don't want to be a stalker, but pick out someone you really know and whose address you know and write him or her a letter. They'll be surprised to get some snail mail from you!

Bad Postcards

When I was wandering through the Letter Parade blog, I came across a link to this site: Bad Postcards. It's pretty funny! Take a look.

Letter #351 -- Bonus!

Sometimes, when we're bored and the lottery jackpot is up really high, we like to play a game we (not-so-creatively) play, "What if we won the lottery?" We think of all the things we'd do with the millions we'd won. Of course, since we rarely play the lottery, our chances of winning aren't very high.

Write a letter about what you would do with an extra $100. If someone just walked up to you and said, "Here' $100. Spend it however you want to." What would you do? Pay bills? Have an extravagant dinner? Buy a new pair of shoes? Write a letter about it!

Another letter writing blog!

I just came across Cindy Gonzales-Kujat's blog, Letter Parade. She writes about letters, the postal service, postcards, pen pals, mail art and more, or as she says on the blog, "everything about the old-school way of communicating." It's a great blog! Drop by for a visit.

Letter #350 -- WWW.

Write a letter about your favorite website. Do you go there to shop, read, sell? Don't forget to include the website e-address in your letter!

Teaching kids about the Postal Service

Here's an interesting story about a school that teaches the students about the postal service, as well as about writing letters.

Letter #349 -- Get well soon!

Write a letter to someone who is in the hospital. If they've been sick but are expected to recover, write a "get well soon" type of letter. If a quick recovery is not anticipated, write a more generic, yet cheerful letter, letting him or her know  you care.

Eco Letter Writing

Julie at the blog The Letter Writing Revolution recently wrote about "Letter Writing and the Environment." She has some great ideas for making your letter writing "greener."

Letter #348 -- ??

Write a letter asking a question. What question? Why, any question you can think of. Write to a business and ask them about a product you use or are thinking about using. Write to a friend and ask where she bought that sweater you admire so much. Write to a celebrity and ask him or her what their middle name is. Engage your curiosity and ask a question!

History in Letters

The letters of the late Leslie Fargher tell the history of Freeport, Ill. Read about the letters in the Freeport Journal-Standard.

Letter #347 -- What's Ahead?

Write a letter about your hopes, dreams and plans for the future.

Every Saturday

Every Saturday, Heather Azano-Brown, at the blog "Notes From the Deep End," posts letters that she has exchanged with her long-time pen pal. Heather designs cards and loves to write letters. Check out her site!

Letter #346 -- Good Eats

Write a letter about and including your favorite recipe. Tell your letter's recipient why you like the recipe (it's easy, it's quick, it's gourmet, someone else makes it, etc.) and any changes you made to the original to make it better.

A librarian's take on letter writing

In the Proviso Herald (in Illinois), librarian Margaret Flanagan writes about letter writing and books on letter writing. It's an interesting little piece.,maywood-MelLibrary-120210-s1.article

Letter #345 -- Ol' buddy, ol' pal

Write a letter to an old friend. Let them know why you've cherished your friendship for so long.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Letter #344 -- Share a Little of Your Life

What's the most difficult task you have to do all day? Is it at home? At work? Is it something you do for yourself or for someone else?

Write a letter about that difficult task today. It doesn't have to be a whiny letter. You can write about how difficult the task is and how you've worked to master it or overcome issues. Maybe you've learned to do something you never knew how to do before. Maybe you're still working on perfecting it. Tell someone about what you do.

Letter writing topic for Dec. 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Letter #343 -- Offer

Today, write a letter offering to help someone with something. If you know of someone specific who needs help with a particular problem or situation, make the offer specific. If not, find a charity or volunteer organization and let them know you're available to help with whatever they need help doing.

Letter writing topic for Dec. 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Letter #342 -- Favorite Song

Today, write a letter to the artist who sings your favorite song. Or, if they're different people, you might consider writing a letter to the writer who wrote your favorite song.

Letter writing topic for Dec. 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Letter #341 -- Cheer!

Write a letter today to cheer up someone. Think of the saddest person you know and write him or her a letter to try and create a smile!

Letter writing topic for Dec. 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Letter #340 -- St. Nicholas Day

Today, December 6, is St. Nicholas Day. Yes, the same St. Nicholas who is sometimes known as Santa Claus.

But, today's celebration is for the "old" St. Nicholas, the original Saint from the third and fourth centuries. St. Nicholas Day is celebrated in many countries, but rarely in the U.S. In some countries, children put their shoes outside their doors, and in the morning they find coins, candy and/or toys in the shoes.

St. Nicholas, it seems, was a busy man. He is the patron saint of children, sailors, merchants, thieves and students.

Today, in honor of St. Nicholas and his benevolence, write a kind letter to a child or a sailor or a merchant or a student. If you want to write a kind letter to a thief, I guess that'll be OK, too.

Andy Rooney talks about letters

Did you get a chance to see "60 Minutes" on CBS last night? He talked about the letters that he's saved through the years. You can watch the clip here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Letter #339 -- Peace

What makes you feel peaceful? When are you most at peace? Where do you go to find peace?

Write a peace-filled letter today. Let someone know how you are at peace.

Letter writing topic for Dec. 5, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

More comments on writing and reading letters

Syed Badrul Ahsan has an interesting piece on Writing and Reading Letters at the Daily Star website.

In part, he says:
"Time was when we used to write letters. It was an era when people made contact with one another, and over long distances, through letters. Something of the intensely personal came with those letters, something of communication between one heart and another. The beauty about letters was that the soul came with it. Feelings embedded in the heart simply poured forth and once they all came to be encapsulated in letters, we felt something of a burden lifting from us."

More from the NPR series

I came across Julija Ĺ ukys' blog about letters and letter-writing, and along with it, the link to another part of the NPR series on the mail. 

Julija is a writer who uses letters a lot in her research. Here's part of what she has to say:

I work with letters because I like the intimacy they afford. Piecing a story together through an unexamined correspondence is a way to tap into untold stories and to break new ground. Reading letters also gives me a glimpse into the ways in which people meld writing and life and make sense of their time on earth.
The NPR segment, Mailed Memories: Your Cherished Letters, includes copies of letters, postcards and other mail that people submitted for the project.

Letter #338 -- Favorite Holiday?

December is probably the most holiday-y month of the year. There are many holidays celebrated in December, from Hanukkah to Christmas to Ashura and the Islamic New Year to Kwanza to many winter solstice events.

What is your favorite holiday all year long? Do you not have a favorite? Not celebrate holidays? Write a letter about your holiday favorite or non-favorite today.

Letter writing topic for Dec. 4, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

"Letters & Journals" Newsletter

Have you received the latest copy of the e-newsletter "Letters & Journals"? If not, you should go over to Jackie Flaherty's website, Letters And Journals, and sign up for the free newsletter. The latest issue has an article about pen pals, one about journaling and the results of the November stationery giveaway. You don't want to miss an issue!

Another Point for Snail Mail!

According to a post on the SecondAct blog, requests for charitable donations that come by old-fashioned "snail mail" rather than by e-mail are more likely to be legitimate. Read the full story here.

One Little Boy's Letter

Here's a heart-warming story about one little boy's letter to U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan. Read about Timothy Bernal's letter here.

Letter #337 -- Warm and toasty

I heard on the radio this morning that today is National Hot Chocolate Day. Now, I can't confirm that anywhere. In fact, a variety of internet sources cite such a "holiday" on different days.

But, still, it got me to thinking about hot chocolate. How do you like your hot cocoa? Do you like it plain or with marshmallows? With a dollop of whipped cream on top, maybe some shavings of dark chocolate? Maybe some cinnamon? For the grown-ups, do you like it spiked with a splash of liqueur?

Write a letter today about your favorite way to drink hot chocolate.

Letter writing topic for Dec. 3, 2010

(Clip art from Clips Ahoy! Free Clipart Island!)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

147-year-old Love Letter

The "Writing is the Easy Part" blog featured this letter, written in 1863.

What a sweet letter it is!

Letter #336 -- Letter to Santa for a Good Cause

Today, write a letter to Santa and deliver it to a Macy's department store. Macy's has a "Believe" program going. For every Letter to Santa that is delivered to a Santa's Mailbox in a Macy's store, Macy's will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, up to $1,000,000.00. Unfortunately, I don't see a way to mail the letter to Macy's, so if you're not near one of their stores, you won't be able to participate. (I'm sure the program is designed to get people into the stores, as well as to help out the charity.)

Letter writing topic for Dec. 2, 2010

Songs about Letters

NPR recently produced a piece on "Songs We Love: Going Postal." It features a list of 10 songs about letters from radio station KUT in Austin. The songs are featured on the website, and then the commenters mention many more letter-related songs.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Letter #335 -- Happy Hanukkah!

Do you know someone who celebrates Hanukkah? The eight-day/night holiday begins at sunset tonight. Write a letter to someone who celebrates Hanukkah.

The stamp above is available from the U.S. Postal Service.

Letter writing topic for Dec. 1, 2010

Note Card Giveaway

The Family Friendly Cincinnati blog is having a Note Card Giveaway, featuring the designs of Cards by Katie. There are several ways to enter the contest, and you can check it all out on the blog!

Letter #334 -- Favorite Type of Movie

What type of movie do you like to watch? Comedies? Romances? Actions? Thrillers?

This past weekend, we watched "November Christmas," a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. We always try to watch the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies...they're usually great shows, and this one was no exception.

Write about your movie preferences in a letter.

Letter #333 -- New recipe

Have you tried a new recipe lately? Share it with someone in a letter! Include not only the letter but your thoughts on the recipe, as well. Let your friend know how it tasted, whether or not you made any adjustments, etc.

Haven't tried anything new lately? Find a recipe, try it out and then write a letter about it!

Letter #332 -- Enclose something!

When you write your next letter, find a little something to enclose, a sheet of stickers, an extra notecard, a book of stamps, a collectible coin, anything you think your letter's recipient would enjoy. Just slip it into the envelope, and don't forget to check and see if you need more postage! Your surprise will be appreciated.

Envelope Wrap

I was browsing the Viva Snail Mail blog recently, when I came upon an entry about the TapeSwell company, which sells a delightful product called Envelope Wrap. It's a combination label-decoration that adds an element of class to any envelope. They also sell all sorts of decorative tape, which can be used to dress up any package. Take a look for yourself!

Letter #331 -- Picture This!

Write a letter and include a picture of your town. Maybe you can take a photo of your favorite restaurant or the park where you like to go sit and write letters. Maybe you can shoot a photo of the post office where you mail your letters. Share a bit of your hometown with your letter's recipient.

Letter #330 -- Silliest Thing

What's the silliest thing you've read or seen on the news lately? Was it the story about Justin Bieber's haircut? How about those two football players who got into a fist-fight? What is it in the news that you think is too silly to be reported? Write about the silliness in a letter.

Letter #329 -- Favorite Color

What's your favorite color? Do you have one? Does your favorite color change from situation to situation? Maybe you prefer to wear burnt orange, yet you painted your bedroom a soothing blue, and your kitchen is decorated in bright yellow? How do colors affect you? Write about your favorite color(s) in a letter.

(Clip art courtesy of

Letter #328 -- Dear Cousin

Has Facebook or some other social networking site put you in touch with relatives you'd almost forgotten about? Are you now "friends" with a long-lost cousin? How about taking it offline and writing that cousin a letter. I'm sure she/he will appreciate a "real" letter!

Letter #327 -- Plain or Fancy?

Do you consider yourself plain or fancy? Of course, neither one is better than the other, but some people prefer things simple and plain, while others like life all frilly and fancy. Which do you like best? Write about it in a letter! Let your letter show your personality. If you're a fancy-type person, use some fancy stationery. If your style is plain, use a simple, yet nice, notepaper.
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