1. Scan letters and store on your computer.
Christmas letters and typed notes are perfect for scanning and recycling. These letters are often printed at home or from online companies, so the handmade feel isn’t often as significant as a personal note. If you want to keep them, scan them. Create folders on your computer, such as “2011 Christmas” or “2011,” for all the letters received during that time, or “Schmidt Family” for all the letters received over the years from that specific family.
2. Tuck them in your scrapbook or journal.
I like combining letters with my stories because they offer different perspectives to life events. I keep a journal from Gadanke, my shop. All I have to do is hole punch postcards and letters (like the one above from my grandma) and put them in my journal. I do the same with photographs and ticket stubs.
3. Keep them so you can give them back to the writer one day.
A couple of years ago, my grandma got a package in the mail. It was filled with about 24 letters and Christmas cards that she had written to her closest college friend over the years! Getting those letters back was like receiving a time capsule. It was the first time we got to learn about my dad’s first Christmas. The keys to doing this are:
- Be selective about from which people you choose to keep the cards for later. A few dear friends or family members is plenty.
- Keep everything in a little box or bag at your desk, so you’ll always file away the items you want to include in this packet one day.
- Be selective about the types of cards and letters you keep. You want to give back a collection of that person’s story, so only hang onto the mail that contributes to that.
- Print off any emails or keep them in a special folder on your computer to return to that person as well.
- You might want to be sneaky sometimes. Email and telephone weren’t luxuries my grandma and her old friend could use. Write letters and notes to your chosen people so they might be inclined to do the same.