The Magic of Letters

by Iris

                No matter how many times you check your mail, it’s always exciting.  Walk down the stairs to the post office, approaching your box with slight apprehension, insert the key with that hopeful feeling in your stomach and, if there’s mail, extract it with anticipation.  Who could have sent me mail this time?  Credit card offers, bank statements, junk mail… OHMYGOODNESSGRACIOUS IS THAT A HAND-ADDRESSED ENVELOPE?!  *GASP* IT EVEN HAS A HAND-WRITTEN RETURN ADDRESS!!! A hand written letter warrants immediate attention right then and there!

                There is nothing quite like getting a letter.  And I mean a real, hand-written-on-paper letter.  Each one is different and each one is precious.  It could be written on stationary and carefully thought out, or maybe it’s written in chicken-scratch penmanship with words crossed out on notebook paper.  Is it in pencil? Pen? Multiple pens?  Each letter has its own distinct character that accentuates the contents.  The first read through is pure excitement, the second read through is where information is retained, anything after that is just to bring a smile.

                The hardest part of writing letters in this age of social media and instant gratification is having anything to say that hasn’t already been Facebooked or texted or Snapchatted.  I write real letters to several of my friends from swimming and high school and I almost never text these people or look at their Facebook profile.  I actually carefully avoid doing so.  If something super exciting just happened, I start a new letter.  Sometimes I write a letter in half an hour and it’s done and gone.  Sometimes it takes me a week to write my reply.  But it’s always a wonderful stress reliever when I do sit down to write a letter to a friend.  I can rant and rave about whatever has been going on, or tell funny stories of things that happen with complete and utter abandon.  I write each paragraph in a different colored pen (I have 8 colors), and tend to have lots of scratched-out words due to my terrible spelling.  Sometimes I’ll add little sketches to my letters, or print out pictures to send along with them.  It’s just so much fun!

                Needless to say, when I saw the flier for the Pen Pal program, I got pretty excited.  UAF runs a pen pal program with elementary schools in Fairbanks, and sometimes in other states.  I’ve currently have two pen pals, both in elementary school here in Fairbanks.  This is my second year corresponding with one; the other is new this year.  And I love it!  Getting a letter from a friend is fun, but getting a letter from a stranger is just downright exciting, especially when that stranger is in fifth grade!  They just have such a different view on the world.  Do you remember what it was like to be in fifth grade?  And now my elementary school pen pals have at least an inkling of an idea what college is like.  Mutual knowledge expansion is a wonderful thing!

                So when you come to college, or are anywhere else in your life and you get homesick, try writing a letter instead of tweeting, Facebooking, Snapchatting, Instagramming or posting a Vine.  It will start a whole new relationship with whoever the lucky letter recipient is and will relieve some of that stress of being far away from home or your friends.  Besides, it will absolutely make someone’s day to get that letter.  

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