Write a letter to a friend this month

Working as communications director in a mental health facility for 25 years, I knew that May was National Mental Health Month, as well as Older Americans Month.
But until recently, I did not know how many other causes had designated a “national month.” There’s literally something for everyone.
National Hobby Month, National Book Month, National Oatmeal Month, Bread Machine Baking Month, Clean Up Your Computer Month, National Poetry Month, National Get Organized Month.
Reaching Your Potential Month, National Stamp Collectors Month, National Candy Month, National Coffee Gourmet Month.
But the one that intrigued me is in January—National Letter Writing Month.
After I left home for college, my mother and I corresponded every week. I was very faithful and very prompt with my letters., which continued until my mother and I began living in the same city in 1964.
Since then, I have been very remiss with letter writing. I never answered Lois and Sally’s letters that came about 10 years ago. Now, I can’t answer them because both of my fellow teachers from the 1950s are gone.
More recently, I haven’t answered Betty Lou—a student whom I taught in high school years ago. And I haven’t answered Elvera, a friend from grade school.
On top of that, I have a fat file of unanswered letters and e-mails.
I always mean to write letters and answer e-mails. But, somehow, the time slips away. That’s where time management comes in.
The backbone of time management is priorizing tasks. Every morning, make a list of the things you want to finish today. Then priorize your to-do list by labeling the tasks with “A, “B,” “C” and so on. If letter writing is way down the list, think again.
Is there a Lois or Sally who would appreciate a letter while there’s time? Or is there a Betty Lou or Elvera you would love to connect with after all these years?
How about your college roommate or your one remaining uncle? The friend who recently moved to another city or the cousin who always sends a long newsy letter with her Christmas card?
Is there anyone in the hospital who would appreciate a greeting card with a little note?
There’s no better time to get started than now, during National Letter Writing Month. So, as you plan how to spend your time this month, decide to make letter writing a priority.
Do it for your family and your friends to make them happy. But mostly, do it for yourself, because researchers report that maintaining strong social relationships is one of the secrets of successful aging.
“It is not the bad things that happen to us that doom us; it is the good people who happen to us at any age that facilitate enjoyable old age,” writes George Vaillant in “Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development.”
Friends, says Vaillant, “add more to life’s enjoyment than retirement income.”
So think of your friends from far away or near, and join me in celebrating National Letter Writing Month. Write a letter or e-mail today, and do the same tomorrow or next week in order to help create your own enjoyable old age.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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