Christmas of Hope 2020: Reach out to an absent friend.

2020 has been the year of the zoom call or the phone, hasn’t it? From schools to work to hospitals to almost any branch of industry, commerce or business you care to mention we have been stuck on phone calls for ages, it seems.

From 1876 and his first command of ‘Mr Watson, come here. I want to see you’, the invention of Alexander Graham Bell has come to play an increasingly important role in our life. And now, when our mobile phones are little power packs of computing versatility that the female computers of NASA would have killed for when computing the flight paths, velocity and trajectories of the early space flights, we rely even more on the power of technology to connect us.

So my call to you today is to turn aside from technology and return to an older, slower method of communication. Today why not reach out to someone you love with a written letter. A proper letter, not a hasty scribbled card or postcard, but one you actually sit and write and post.

Choose a friend you haven’t spoken to for a while, one that perhaps you lost contact with or haven’t had a decent chat to for ages. Perhaps they moved away, or you moved away. Perhaps you were school gate Mums together at primary school and your children moved on to different schools. Perhaps you knew them at the sports club you attended, and one or other of you left. Choose someone that has had you wondering what they could be up to, and someone you want to know about. This isn’t a vanity exercise, it’s a genuine communication.

And take your time over the letter. You don’t need to dash this down: if the letter takes you a day, a week or a month it doesn’t matter. Write it, post it and see what happens. If you need some help, here are my hints:

  • Start by jotting down some notes. Collecting ideas on a scrap paper make writing the final letter easier. Note down memories, questions you want to ask and points about your life you want to share.
  • Draft a rough shape to your letter: Introduction: Memories: Update on life: Hopes for the future. You’re not writing a russian novel, so it may well be that each area is no more than a paragraph long. That’s fine.
  • Think of some questions you want to know. How is your friend’s family is always a good first one, what have they done since you last met, do they still do something you share in a memory (do they still do a sport, dance or act in Amateur productions, perhaps). You should also ask about their present life. Are they working? Where do they live? What’s happened in their lives this year or last.
  • A shared memento or an object that inspired communication can be a good way in. Having a postcard of a familiar place, a photograph from school or a holiday, or a press cutting from a club or sporting venue they used to love could provide the excuse to communicate with them after a period of silence. ‘I found this and thought of you’ is a lot more tactful than ‘I just didn’t bother staying in touch, but how are you now?’ Although… the second alternative works as well, if you’ve always been brutally honest and the friend is good enough.
  • Make the letter attractive. Use good paper and a good quality pen. Or, if you type the letter, include photographs or decorative icons as you go. It’s better to handwrite a letter like this, because it does show a personal touch and shows you used time and effort on them, but if your writing resembles a drunken spider crawling across the page, then type away. The legibility of the letter matters more than whether you spent hours writing it. Or combine the two. Include a shorter, handwritten message on a postcard or photo along with the longer typed letter.
  • Length is a matter of opinion. Only you know how long is too long.
  • Don’t be downhearted if you don’t get a reply. There can be many reasons why an old friend doesn’t get back in touch, and many of them aren’t negative, just natural. If you get no reply, just file it under Not Known at This Address and move on unless you really do decide to find out what happened to your friend, in which case make enquiries.

Enjoy the process, but don’t anticipate the result. You are writing the letter for your own benefit as much as the friends. The act of writing can be very calming, or a cathartic process in itself. And if there is no response…. perhaps this was not meant to be.

Daily Read: An Open Letter to An Old Friend by Shona Keachie. Don’t worry, your letter doesn’t need to be as deep and philosophical as this one… unless you and your old friend share philosophy as a common interest… but I love the idea of using a letter to an old friend format to list the things you have learned in life. And I loved some of the points Shona made. It’s a simple concept, which I may well do myself next year.

Daily Book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows. There are many epistolary novels, or novels which use letters as important plot devices or as a means to tell the story, but I chose this one for today, because the tale is written so well, and the story unfolds so beautifully. Plus also, I find the story of the authors so beautifully poignant. It also has the added advantage of having been made into a film which is easily available.

Self Care Act of the Day: Write yourself a letter as well. Put into it all your hopes and fears for the year, write about what’s happened this year and what you hope will happen next, what you’ve learned, what mistakes you made, whether you’re happy or not, what state your relationships are in… just anything.

If you don’t like the idea of writing yourself a letter, do the planning for one, in list form. What points would you put in a letter, what lessons, hopes, goals etc. In letter or list form, seal it in an envelope and mark to open this time next year. Start now and make it an annual occurrence and it will make an easy and interesting record of your life. We all have to recognise where we have come from and accept our past guilt free to be able to properly move on.

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted or bought by me with my everyday wages.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

A Self Care Christmas: A short ebook on keeping Christmas simple and making sure it doesn’t overwhelm.

Celebrating a Contagious Christmas: Available in ebook and paperback, it’s about making this year a festival of Hope.

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little rhings in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, however we get to celebrate it this year, and a Happy, Healthy and Simple New Year.

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