With My Own Hand – a Year and a Half Later

Back in March, 2012, I attended my uncle’s funeral.  Because of some things I heard and saw there, I took up letter writing – as in pen, paper, stamp, envelope and writer’s cramp.  (Read the details here ... )

Write to whom?

Not counting inmates (I write to anywhere between 3 and 7 people that are incarcerated at any given time), I have written 20 to 25 different people.  Many of them only once (especially the international ones (a global stamp costs $1.10)), but some of them numerous times.  I haven’t kept an official tally, but it is well over 120 letters.

To date (again, excluding inmates) I have received a total of 5 letters from 3 different people.  Mostly I get no response.  Occasionally I get an email response.  Sometimes I get a, “Hey, I got your letter” in a subsequent encounter.  Once I got a book.

The email responses are interesting.  Here is a typical reaction:

Hey there Jim,

I received your letter last week, and I just want to say thank you very much for it. It’s a very unusual and special thing to get a hand-written-anything these days, as it takes so much more thought and effort than an email (like this one).

It takes me about twice as much time to hand-write a letter as opposed to typing in Microsoft Word.  Sometimes I do type, but mostly I write.  The stamp costs me $.46 unless it is international; then it’s $1.10.  I use whatever envelope is lying around, so some go out in greeting card envelopes, others in a personal sized one and sometimes the good ole number 9 or 10.  I’ve used a 6″X9″ writing pad, composition book, hotel stationary, notebook paper and 8.5″X11″ computer paper.  Usually I use whatever ballpoint pen is handy, but have used a fine point flair a few times and once I used a pencil.

I’ve written to former students, my children, siblings, nieces and nephews, old friends, bloggers, people in grief and a couple of letters praising an employee to their boss.  The average letter is about 300 words, but I’ve sent notes with as few as 20 words and a longer epistle of over 3000 words (that one was typed).

Why do I spend the time and money?

I think it matters.  I think it communicates the value and worth of what is written, but more importantly, I thing it communicates the value and worth of the one to whom it is written.  Just the act of writing and sending a letter says, “You are noticed and you are worth this effort.”

Am I disappointed in the response?


I didn’t really expect anything.

Until someone responds, you never know whether or not they even saw it.  It is nice to have a response with which to interact.  I like letters from my pen pals.  But, even without the interaction, it is worth it.  They are worth it.

Whether it is some wisdom I want to pass on to a former student, an old friend I remembered fondly or a blogger who wrote something that touched my heart, they are all people who have added value to my life.  I think it is important that they know that.

So I write . . .

With my own hand.

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1 Response to With My Own Hand – a Year and a Half Later

  1. Ed says:

    Jim, Your letter writing is a blessing I’m sure to those who read them and just like many of the things we do right when noone is around is noticed by God because He cares and because it matters to those that you took the opportunity to lift up or even attempt to lift up with your gift to them. Please continue to show your joy and courage to others in the darkness. It may be the only Light of Jesus they see. Your Brother in Christ, Ed

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