Someone made my day on Wednesday. As I sifted through the assorted bills, catalogs, magazines and circulars that clog up my sturdy black mailbox, I spotted a small white envelope that was hand-addressed in swirly script to ME! I smiled when I saw that it had been sent to “Mrs. David Reiser,” and it made perfect sense when I saw that the return-address sticker had the name of a very dear, nearly lifelong friend of my beloved late grandparents. The darling and ever-sassy Helene is 93, and although she uses email and has my email address, she chose to put pen to paper and write me a letter. I was tickled pink, and I tucked the handwritten note in my top drawer, grinning every time I peek in and see the envelope.

It’s a tad pathetic to admit how thrilled I get when I receive something handwritten in the mail, and it’s downright nauseating to know that letter-writing is a lost art. I have a box filled with letters I’ve saved since childhood and it’s one of the first things I’d grab if my house was on fire! Letters from pen-pals I never met in person, letters from friends who were away at camp or studying abroad, cathartic letters I wrote but never mailed, even a small stash of love letters. Each one, a treasure.

That’s why I was completely captivated and intrigued by author Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Month of Letters” challenge. Knowing the sense of delight you get when you receive something personal in the mail, she is putting forth a simple challenge for the month of February. As she writes:

1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.

2. Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.

Since there are 4 Sundays and one US holiday in February, all you’re comitting to is mailing 24 items. Kowal imagines the challenge might inspire you to send even more than 24 items. Or maybe you’ll develop a correspondence that extends beyond the month of February. In any case, she’s hoping that people enjoy going to the mail box again.

Well, you can count me in! I think it’s an outstanding idea. (And no, we’re not shilling for the USPS.) Please consider participating as well, and keep an eye on your mailbox-maybe you’ll happen to be on my list!

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