No good comes from the ones with printed addresses. The tax man needs another document or your TV license is about to expire. Ones with windows are no better: often bills, bank statements, or bad news. To the owner or address-less envelopes are recycling fodder, junk adverts for faster Internet or cheaper gas. Day in day out the mail box disappoints. Six days out of seven the hall floor is home to correspondence likely to be scanned and disregarded with the briefest intention to file.

Then, occasionally, and just occasionally, a handwritten envelope sneaks in amongst the chaff. A nugget of gold in the sand.

These are the envelopes that get studied. First, the handwriting. Is the scratchy blank lettering familiar? Do you recognise the cursive blue ink? If the answer is no, it’s on to the postmark. Narrowing down where the mystery envelope came from can help win the guessing game. And, whether you know who the sender is or not, the contents is always destined to bring a smile. A wedding invite. A postcard. A letter from a friend.

A WhatsApp photo is always nice to get, as is an e-mail or a text. It’s great that it can be so easy to say hi. But a letter, a letter tells you that someone took the time to put pen to paper. It tells you they took the time to select a card or search out some paper. Maybe they sat at the table or leant on a magazine whilst sat on the sofa. They looked up your address, went and bought a stamp, and dropped it into the mail box. It’s nice to picture the letter on the kitchen table, waiting for your friend to take it out the next morning. It’s comforting to picture your oldest school mate smiling to herself as she fills a card inside and out with news and love.

Letters like these deserve to be read, really read. Each word needs time, sitting in a comfy chair with a cup of tea. Friends who write like they talk bring fond memories to mind, the closest thing to having a distant close one close again. News you haven’t heard trips of the page. Uncrossed Ts remind you of your pals lazy tendencies. A card with a hilarious design reminds you of the few people who share your sense of humour. From a perfectly chosen postcard to pretty letter paper, even the stationery is cause for a smile.

Once opened and read, letters remain. They lie in shoe boxes or sit on window sills, to be read again or to act as a simple reminder of the person who thought of you, the person who cared.

So send emails and texts and Facebook messages galore, but also send time and effort on carefully selected paper. Send letters now and then, take pleasure in the writing knowing your recipient will take joy from the reading.


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