I had a pen pal when I was in elementary school, an actual pen pal. We wrote each other letters. I know I lived in the dark ages. I loved getting those letters. I’d run out to the mail box almost every day to see if she had written me back. Then, I’d place my letters with as much excitement for my friend to receive. I loved sharing ideas, events, and jokes with my friend. In this digital age, the concept of a pen pal is a forgotten idea—but the benefits are so great. And I have so many happy memories of my pen pal that I wanted something that would recreate that for my children. After thinking awhile, I decided that grandparents make great pen pals.
Grandparents’ day is coming up soon, as well, and I thought this would be a neat way for my kids to get to know their grandparents better. I have realized that there’s a lot of my parents’ and grandparents’ lives that I don’t really know about. Maybe by writing these letters we’ll all be able to get to know each other better. There’s so much that grandparents and parents can teach their children and grandchildren. And, letters are a calmer way for those lessons to be issued.
A bonus of our writing letters to our grandparents, aside from getting to know them better, is that my children will learn how actually to write a letter. This skill is being lost faster than e-mail and texting. How many of us open e-mails that are almost text messages? There are no context or identifiers in the e-mail. If we didn’t know who we were talking to, or what we were talking about, these e-mails would make no sense. There’s a skill to communicating by letter that not only communicates what the writer wants to communicate, but also communicates an understanding of what the other person has already written.
Finally, this new letter writing scheme of mine seems to help my children process what they’ve experienced and gone through. They have the opportunity to share, almost completely privately, with someone about their experiences. That’s empowering and also amazingly therapeutic. My dear mother actually started this letter writing campaign with simple little post cards. One in specific shared a touching story about when she lost her pet cat. She was sharing that with my fifth grader shortly after we lost one of our pet kittens. The commonality of her experience and my daughter’s experience helped to ease some of the pain my fifth grader was feeling.
Grandparents make great pen pals. They want to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives as much as possible. Even the simplest scribbles from a toddler are hung with honor on the refrigerator. Grandparents’ Day is coming soon – what a better way to connect with grandparents then by sending them letters and becoming their pen pals. It’s quite amazing what a simple letter can do for everyone.