Monday, June 7, 2010

Artful Penpals

When I was a 12 yr old girl in CGIT (like Girl Guides), I signed up for a penpal from Japan. Hario and I corresponded for roughly 2 years; feather-weight, delicate blue envelopes containing a single sheaf of paper would arrive every 3-4 months with exotic looking stamps on the outside. The letters didn't contain much information: "Our village is little cold this year." "My school is hard." But every time I received a letter, there it was! Tangible proof that there was an island called Japan half way around the planet! It was so exciting! I still have those letters. .
I had 2 other penpals between 10 and 16. And when I moved away from home at 20, my grandmother and I would write each other regularly on pretty stationery; hers always smelled like lavender or lily of the valley. Neither of us had nice handwriting; but those letters were precious. The thoughts, the sentiments, the emotions they contained might never have been shared in person. But there they were on paper, able to be read over and over again. They gave me a wonderful sense of home,security and love. I still have them..

Although I don't write as often as I used to, I still love to write letters. I think that my blog fills a lot of my personal need to write and my love of connecting with people in "away" places. (And it's faster and easier on my carpal tunnel and arthritis when I use a keyboard.) .

My blog friend Shelagh at AliceinParisLovesArtandTea is hosting her second "Artful Penpals" signup. Last year, I received a letter and package from Trinidad. The correspondence didn't continue between us; perhaps some people only want one letter! But that's certainly not always the case. Here's what Shelagh had to say about last year's success:

"Last year there were 52 people from all over the world. The feedback was great. People are craving that personal touch, a return to simpler and more thoughtful things. Just like the slow food movement, snail mail is becoming something people desire. Only one person I know of did not get a letter. Here's what another wrote: I signed up for this last year and met the most wonderful friend through this project. We still talk all the time on the internet and occasionally send each other letters in the actual postal mail system too. Thank you so much for sending me a friend I will cherish forever! I hope people signing up this year have as wonderful an experience as I did. "
Shelagh collects the names and information; she then matches people based on interests, age and requests. She sends the basic contact info to both penpals; and then it's up the writers to connect (and stay connected).
I'm going to sign up again this year: I may get one letter, or I may be fortunate enough to find a lifelong friend. It doesn't matter.
If you're interested, the information is all here! But you only have until June 14th.
Yours sincerely ..... et cordialement,
Tu Ami -- Moi!


Beth said...

What a great post. I actually knew someone in my graduate program who did her master's thesis ion letter writing and penpals- her premise was that it was a dying art but her studies concluded differently.
People still love a beautiful letter from a faraway friend.

The Words Crafter said...

What wonderful memories! Strange, I have actually been thinking about writing letters to my friends-it's the best thing to get a letter or card in the mail. And, here you offer a pen pal opportunity...for grown ups! I'm going to work on my intro-letter tomorrow. Thanks for posting this...I agree that blogging is a great way to connect. I get very excited when someone has "stopped by" my blog and left comments...and I get to meet such nice, interesting people, like yourself!

Linda said...

What a fun post! I use to love writing letters. My Mom recently gave me a lot of letters I had written over the years to her and it was fun to look at them again. I may sign up to do the penpal.

Olga said...

I love writing letters too. I have several pen pals in the USA and Europe. I like to write by hand and use pretty stationary. It's much more personal than e-mailing. I liked your post about your memories of writing letters as a child. It's so beautiful.

ethelmaepotter! said...

Such a beautiful vignette!

As a child, my penpals were always the friends I'd moved away from, since we moved every year. But alas, my friends never enjoyed writing as much as I did, so our written correspondence never lasted long.

Sounds like a terrfic idea Shelagh is hosting, and if I had a minute of free time, I would join up. Hope your experience is fun and successful!

The Empress said...

I also had a penpal from Japan, and then her letters stopped. I enjoyed them very much..the light blue par avion envelope.

Thank you for bringing back those memories.

Marie said...

That sounds like a great event Sandy. I may even sign up myself! I used to go to CGIT when I was a girl. I loved the uniform. I also had a penpan. Mine was in New Zealand. It sounded such an exotic place.

Debra said...

I so enjoyed stumbling upon your blog this morning. I have always loved being a penpal too and is probably why I enjoy reading blogs so much. Love to learn about people and far away places. Maybe I will check out the link you posted.

Will be back to visit again,

Blessings of peace & all that is good,

aliceinparis said...

Hi Sandy, thanks:) I used to write regularly to my grandmothers too. Still have some of the letters:)They would often enclose recipes which I treasure.

Eva Gallant said...

I, too, had a penpal on a couple of occasions. It is definitely an interesting experience.

reasonably chubby said...

Hey Sandy! I loved this post. I remember having a pen pal when I was but a wee child as well. It was fun! I love the, "the village is cold..." Hahaha. For some reason that just cracks me up. It proves the thrill is in the receiving and sending, less about the content. :)

Mica said...

That is neat. I always wanted a pen pal. I would surely give it a try. Thanks for popping over... I hope your strawberries come in soon. Is it usual to be later? We enjoyed toast and our jam this morning...yum!!! Now we are preparing the rest of the strawberries not used in the jam for some strawberry cheesecake ice cream. See ya soon. thanks for the info. on pen paling. Hugs, Mica

knitwit said...

What a cool idea! I'm always complaining that letter-writing is a lost art. I miss writing with ink on actual pretty stationery!


Thank you for sharing. I can not wait to participate.