I recently watched an episode of Ellen with Henry Winkler as a guest. He’s a lovely man. Kind and soft-spoken. Simply said, he’s more Arthur than Fonzie in the “Arthur Fonzarelli” character he played on the TV show Happy Days. He’s the side of Fonzie on Happy Days who was sweet and bashful when he thanked “Mrs. C” for dinner, as she endearingly served him more mashed potatoes and called him Arthur. (For anyone born after the year 2000, Henry Winkler is “Barry” on Arrested Development).
What I learned in the quick interview with Henry Winkler is his love for writing fan mail. “I think if you see a performance like Sam Rockwell as Fosse [in ‘Fosse/Verdon’], you have to write a letter…if you see Patricia Arquette in ‘Escape From Dannemora’, you have to write a letter. I write fan letters.” Yes, he writes real-find a stamp and put the letter in the mailbox with the flag up- mail. And more importantly, he writes because he wants to let someone know he admires them. He’s just a good guy.
Back in the ’80s, I was a big fan of the TV show Silver Spoons, a time when goofy kids like me called Ricky Shroeder “The Ricker”. After unearthing the show’s coveted address in a
Teen Beat magazine in our school library, I wrote my first piece of fan mail to Ricky. Months later, I received an autographed (stamped!) picture, which, when your 12, was life-changing. Unfortunately, if you google “The Ricker” today, as I just did you’ll realize he didn’t pan out to be an upstanding guy. Nonetheless, at the time, I wrote a letter.
I come from a generation of letter writers. Starting with my mom. Once, when I was about 11, the cashier at Sears was abrupt with my mom when she pulled out her coupons…so, mom asked the woman her name, went home and wrote a letter to Sears. When mom didn’t want to receive the ten donation envelopes every month from St. Anne’s Catholic Church, she put pen to paper and let them know she and my dad donate quarterly. If she enjoyed a restaurant? Letter. Strongly disagreed with the editorial in the Tribune? Letter. Even today, after reading an article in her Gluten-Free Magazine, she wrote a letter telling the editor about the gluten-free hosts she and her dear friend Toni make for their church so mom can receive communion every Sunday.
Writing a letter is most certainly a lost art. Receiving a letter (other than bills) is always a joy. Just yesterday I received a thank you note from our family friend Connie. She wrote the kindest note thanking us for our Christmas card and my detailed update on our family.
Connie just turned 87 and is faithful to the written word. She sends our kids birthday cards with crisp dollar bills inside and a handwritten message in cursive that throws their brains into shock. She’s a gem.
So whether you’re thanking someone for the Instapot you probably won’t use, wishing your parents a happy anniversary, or opining about an editorial in the newspaper, write a letter. If you don’t, not to worry, Henry Winkler and mom have their pens ready.
Thanks for reading, it means a lot to me. 🙂
Need help getting started on your thank-you notes? Here’s a guide: How to write a thank-you note in 5 easy steps.