One of the things I love most about the holiday season is Christmas cards. Especially after the strange and isolating year we have had, checking the mail each day, waiting to see if there was a card, getting updates on friends and family, it’s been medicine for my soul.

This year’s cards looked a little different. Instead of just matching pajamas, matching masks were also in vogue. I quietly read each one, looking over the photos and smiling at all the toothy grins from all my friends’ kids. Then, I taped each card to the kitchen cabinets to display for the Christmas season. Taking them down in January made me kind of sad.

But, it got me thinking.

I love getting letters and cards in the mail. It brings me such joy that maybe this year, I won’t wait to send some cheer out to my Christmas list until December. Maybe I’ll start a letter-writing campaign.

I got the idea from my aunt. She recently sent around an email with handwritten letters attached. They were drafted by my great-aunts and sent to her in 1979 when she was a young, new mom, living away from home for the first time. The notes made me instantly miss these wise old women — pseudo grandmas — who have long since passed. (My grandpa had 5 sisters and 4 brothers and they were a big part of my life growing up.)

But hearing their voices and seeing their writing again gave me pause.  In today’s digital age, a handwritten note is becoming a lost art.  And so, that is just what I am doing. As part of my New Years resolutions, I am reaching out to my circle in writing. It may not mean anything to anyone else.  But it fills that place in my heart that desperately needs connection.

I decided on the following three categories:

The Simple Hello

I am sending notes to those special people in my life who could use a reminder that they are on my mind. I have family in care facilities that have endured one of their hardest, most isolated years ever, and I am writing letters to them just to say hi. Sometimes they are written in big, bold letters with little more than a quick “Hello,” but hopefully will be enough to let them know I am thinking of them.

Letters to my Christmas Card List

Secondly, I plan to write each person on my Christmas list an actual letter. I’ll tell them of my mission to reach out and thank them for the annual card. I know how expensive and time-consuming writing Christmas cards can be, but I truly do love the updates and well wishes, they warm my heart all season.

Silly Stories

Finally, for the special kids in my life, I have started writing them silly stories, mailed one chapter at a time.  With each chapter I send a fun little gift to accompany the letters, each one described in the story and weaved into the adventures of the main characters.

I am starting with my nieces, whom I have been unable to see as frequently this last year as I would have normally and I want them to know I love them, miss them and am thinking of them. I know they love getting to open packages that come in the mail addressed just to them and I hope it will be a good way to stay connected. Each chapter will be mailed two weeks apart to keep them engaged and to span the time I think we’ll have to continue to stay apart until we are safe to visit again.

This story is about a little girl who steals rainbows (like the rainbow marshmallows from her sisters’ Lucky Charms) until she learns how to make them and gives them a way to spread joy.

No matter what the format the correspondence comes in, I hope it brings a little joy to the recipient and reminds them someone out there is thinking of them.

What are you doing to stay connected?  Do you send handwritten letters?

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Rachel is a native Coloradoan, though originally from the Western Slope. She followed her husband Chris to his hometown of Colorado Springs after having met in engineering school at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. Together they have four beautiful children, Tommy (2011), Tazzy (2014), Zach (2015) and Zinny (2018). Having a young and active family keeps Rachel on her toes trying to find ways to keep the ship sailing while still meeting all the demands of motherhood. Though Rachel loves her most important role as Mommy most, she also works full time outside the home as a Water Resources Engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources. This role helps keep her life centered, bouncing from detailed and complex discussions relating to Colorado Water Law with her husband ( a mechanical engineer) to daycare and preschool drop off and pick up schedules, while being constantly interrupted by the equally complex musings of her 4 year.