How writing letters helped the author better appreciate her life.
When freelance writer Kho (The Family Mix: Essays on Family Life From MidlifeMixtape.com, 2013) turned 50, she decided to mark the year by writing 50 letters to her family, friends, and anyone else who had motivated or guided her in her life. One of the first letters she wrote was to her father, an act that gained further significance when he was diagnosed with cancer. Through the act of writing, the author discovered forgotten moments that have shaped her life, making her even more grateful for having lived them, including those that caused pain. When she was done writing, she printed out copies of all the letters so she could read them and relive her thoughts, which reinforced the feelings of love and bounty that she obtained from these people and events. Kho’s personal story is intertwined with guidelines on how to start your own letter-writing project. She lists the obvious choices for such letters—among others, parents, siblings, spouses, children, extended family—but also provides other interesting choices, including a doctor or dentist, favorite artist or musician, or even an ex-partner. She notes that while many of these letters may never be sent to the recipient for one reason or another, it does not negate the positive effect of writing it. Kho also moves beyond people and includes places, hometowns, hobbies, ideas, etc. The last letter, she writes, should be to yourself as you think about all the previous letters you’ve written. Although emails, texts, and tweets have taken over much of life, this old-fashioned method of communication has the potential to increase one’s happiness as well as that of the recipient. Kho’s idea is simple and quaint and will appeal to those seeking to understand “the importance of expressing appreciation.”
A genial volume about a fun approach to showing others how much they mean to you.