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When You Open The Box

How often do you dread going to the mailbox? Or even just skip checking the mail altogether? When was the last time you received a real letter from someone? I’m talking handwritten, with a pen or pencil- words on the page that were not printed off a computer? How about an envelope that had a handwritten address on it?

Most of the time our bills are all delivered online. Even the ads have moved to an online forum and we rarely get those anymore! If you walk into a store and ask for that week’s ad, they will likely point you to an app that you have to download.

We live in a fast paced world, where the things of yesteryear are quickly becoming obsolete. Our phones replace most things in our life now. They have become our address book, our planner, our camera. Gone are the landline phones that used to be a luxury for any household.

The thing is—we don’t even use the phones that we have to call people anymore. We would rather avoid genuine human interaction and simply send a text. A text that does not contain our tone of voice, our voice volume, and if we are honest—our attention.

A few months ago, I went to visit a very dear family member who not only shares my love of genealogy but whom I found through the DNA process of researching my roots! We planned the trip out in advance and knew that we wanted to dive deeper into documenting our family history and sharing what we had.

Diligently, we pulled out bin after bin, that had been pushed away to the far edges of the house. Each one collecting more and more dust as vital information sat abandoned. Going through old pictures, paper documents, and mementoes that connected each of us to the generations before.

I was blown away by the amount of letters that she had not only received, but kept as a treasure. We live in such a culture that we keep nothing. We assume that it will all be available online someday. We don’t have the space. There is no connection.

Friends, I found letters from as far back as 1957. Can you imagine? That letter was 65 years old! There are a lot of people that, unfortunately, do not make it to 65 years old.

But my dear, sweet family did. She realized the treasure that it could be someday. As we talked more and more about the many letters that she had kept, it dawned on me that back then—that was all that they had. Most people did not have telephones. If they did, they could not afford long distance calls or if they did, not for very long.

Letter after letter I read. It wasn’t some big celebration or a recounting of some grand event. No, it was the daily conversations and interactions that filled those letters. They talked of their daily chores and how they “might like to rearrange their furniture.”

Talk about having things put into perspective. The need for human connection pressed past the obstacles that life often throws at us throughout those letters. Living life together, going deeper than the surface level with others is part of what folklore and folk groups are about.

Life continually changes. Respecting and learning from the past are so closely aligned that sometimes we focus on one or the other or none at all. What if we were more purposeful in our pursuit of others, of documenting where we are for future generations?

Letter writing is sadly, a lost art. I have never heard of anyone being disappointed in receiving a handwritten letter. Because it is a connection, a real connection to someone else.

Someone cared about another person enough to take the time to sit down and write it out on paper, to close it up in an envelope, pay the postage, and probably take it to the post office to mail. That takes a level of thoughtfulness that isn’t often found anymore.

How would you feel if you were the one walking out to the mailbox and when you opened it up, instead of emptiness, instead of ads or bills—there was a handwritten rectangle to brighten your day?

It’s time to Live Your Lore. Who can you write today friends? Who can you bless with the gift of your thoughtfulness? Let’s create a culture of connectivity, not disparity. Will you commit to reach out to one person this week?

2 thoughts on “When You Open The Box”

  1. Love this! Honestly, as awesome as iPhones and all these smart phones are, I miss the days before them! I would say the last time I really wrote letters to anyone was when I was a freshman in High School and first moved to Virginia from Kentucky. I stayed in touch with a couple friends for a little while. I remember it would always make my day when I got a letter in the mail. To this day, I even love the Christmas time the cards I get in the mail.

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