I didn’t send any holiday cards this past year. What with hosting the family, the inevitable rush of work in December, and the daunting task of getting cards personalized, addressed and mailed, it wasn’t in the cards (literally) for 2016. I did have a thought that when I could spare some time in the early part of the quarter, I would sit down and write old fashioned letters to the friends I really wanted to reconnect with. Friends from high school or college that don’t live here, and too-often fall into the category of “well overdue to receive a phone call from me.” I can remember my parents receiving these types of holiday letters from old friends when I was a little girl — long letters detailing family updates, career changes, happy times, and struggles too. I remember thinking it was such an adult thing, to correspond in this way and maintain a connection over a simple piece of paper, amazed that it actually worked. As a “grown up” myself now (at least in theory), I find myself understanding it more and more.
Anyway, I was thinking a lot about those letters this morning and how meaningful they were, primarily on the heels of reading this absolutely excellent article in the Times magazine about the Office of Presidential Correspondence, or O.P.C. Did you know there was such an office, staffed with scores of individuals who read the thousands of letters and emails that come to the White House each month? I must say, I felt this piece deserved its own shoutout, because it was one of my favorite pieces of journalism I’ve read in a long time. Not only was I fascinated to read about how this office works (so organized!), but it was incredibly powerful to hear from the staffers, interns, and volunteers who are tasked with reading, digesting, categorizing, and filing these missives. I had long heard about the President’s program to read 10 letters per day (shorthanded to 10LAD in the O.P.C.) when he is at the White House, but to hear first hand about how those letters are picked, how their responses are generated, and even how the 10LAD spread to other parts of the administration was really moving. Some of these letters…well, I teared up. Can you imagine being part of an office that must filter through the voice of the nation everyday? It’s incredible. Like the snail mail my parents would send and receive, it’s clear these letters can forge an important connection not only between leaders and constituents, but between everyday citizens too. The power of the pen, indeed.
You should give it a read here. And I need to make a trip to a stationery shop, stat. Time to get writing.