In this world of social media, it may be hard to believe someone of my age would say that I prefer regular mail over status updates. I like cards, notes, and letters. Of course, this is also what I grew up with. My friends and I wrote each other; we didn’t call or anything. Phones and computers were for my parents’ work, not play. 

I got back into the habit of writing after sorting the last drawer of recipes my grandmother had. In the drawer was a recipe on the back of the last page of a letter to her. She wrote back and forth with several people through the years and this one was from a sister-in-law of hers. I know her and thought of how neat it was that they kept in touch. Shortly after that, I began writing her too, sort of in place of Grandma. 

We have been writing each other ever since and I love it. There is something about being penpals that draws people together. Sixty years seperate us in age, but it doesn’t feel like it. I always look forward to hearing from her. And maybe our letters will leave family information behind for generations after us. In family research, personal letters can be a wealth of knowledge and yet it is becoming seldom for people to write. How much family history will be lost from our generation because there is no hard record of it?

The idea stuck me as I was finishing a letter to her: we could all benefit from breaking away from the social media cesspool. Get your extended family members’ addresses. Next time you think of them or they have a life event, send them a card instead of a message. It’ll give them something to hang on to and remember. Maybe it’ll even give future generations something to help them find their roots. 

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