The name “April,” may have originally derived from the Latin word aperire, “to open,” referring to the opening of flowers. An ancient reference for April is to Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love; and in modern times, April is the month of National Card and Letter Writing, designated by the US Postal Service in 2001, to observe and celebrate the craft of letter writing. Stitching these themes together, let’s explore the joy, creativity, expression, and connection through a hand-written note for someone to “open” and feel the love.
Handwriting a personal message in the age of technology may feel like a lost art, but it is easily revived in a few minutes. As with social media, you may not even know the person you are writing to. Receiving a personal message in a card or letter is a gift for the recipient and can become a treasure for a lifetime. The content can be a one-liner or multiple pages. Regardless of age, gender, or location, the power to bring joy to a senior citizen is yours to create!
Senior citizens living alone at home, or in assisted living and nursing facilities, often report feeling lonely and isolated. Depression can become a ‘normal’ way of getting through the day. You have the power to change this for someone by taking a few minutes, right now, by sitting down and writing a letter to an elder. Tell them about yourself, send a picture of your dog, send a funny story, invite them to write to you by including a self-addressed, stamped envelope with a piece of paper to write on.
Starting with the community where you live, inquire with local agencies and facilities working with senior citizens -- senior centers, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, etc., and ask if they have an activities director you can speak with to coordinate sending cards and letters to one or more residents. This is safe and secure for all. Becoming a Pen-Pal may be one of the most rewarding life experiences. Make it a social event by inviting friends for coffee and letter writing – have fun paper, pens, color markers, stamps, and the like for an atmosphere of creativity and sharing. Decorate the envelope! Invite children to draw pictures and write, too!
Establishing the practice of letter writing has its own rewards. To sit quietly and contemplate what to write and putting words on paper can have meditative benefits. Write to your family and friends – someone you can’t be with in person, someone you think of often, or admire from afar. Send a handwritten note to someone who lives in the same house as you.
April is the official month for card and letter writing, but any day of any month is a good day to handwrite a message. Start your own mission to bring joy to a senior citizen. May you receive many blessings in return, finding letters in your own mailbox to open, and feel love.