The Lost Art of Letter Writing
I think I was a little old-fashioned even when I was young. Some of us are like that. My daughter is only 16 but is an old soul. When I was her age, I wrote letters to my new friends across the state that I had met at summer camp. Letters. With stamps. Little did I know then, but that was the beginning of my long letter-writing career. There are so many more options to stay in touch now, but then it was expensive long-distance phone calls, postcards, or letters. That’s it.
Chain Letters and Thank You Notes
When I went 10 ½ hours away from home to go to college, my small group of friends decided to write a chain letter and mail it to each other in our various universities. We figured instead of writing the same news 4 times, we’d write it once, share it and pass it on. It was a brilliant idea since we were spread across two states, until someone took too long to respond, highjacked the letters and the chain broke down.
I learned at a pretty young age to write thank you notes to distant relatives for birthday and Christmas presents. I never thought much of it and my kids learned at a young age as well, but I later discovered that not everyone writes thank you notes, or any kind of note at all. When my daughter was in the 4th grade, her teacher gave every student her address and promised she would write to them if they wrote her first. My daughter thought this was neat and promptly wrote to her teacher at the beginning of the summer. They continued to correspond over that entire summer and into the next school year. I was thrilled because unbeknownst to my daughter she was honing her letter writing skills and knew exactly how to address an envelope. When I told her that I was proud of her for continuing to write, she replied that she had too because her teacher always asked her questions so she couldn’t leave them unanswered! That is a smart teacher!
Old Love Letters
My husband graduated a year before me and since we were dating and later engaged and still 10 ½ hours apart, we wrote letters. We splurged to pay for a long-distance phone call once a week, but in between, we wrote letters. We asked questions, we talked about what we were doing, what we looked forward too, and what we thought about. We still have those letters today and I’m hoping they will be around for a long while.
We have a letter dated in 1842 sent to my maternal Great-great-great Grandfather in Ontario, Canada to my Great-great-great Uncle in Lockerbie, Scotland. It is a wonderful letter between brothers-in-law and one that I cherish as it gives such insight into the times and our family. My mother has postcards that her Grandfather and siblings exchanged when he moved away from home in Canada to Michigan. They show a fun side to their relationships and a closeness that we wouldn’t have known from old pictures.
A Summer of Postcards
One summer while my son was away I regularly sent him postcards. I had them printed with scenes from home and filled them with family and local news, what we were doing and how my business was growing. My son felt not only connected but could picture home. He has kept that stack of postcards and I image if he’s like me, he will for a long time.
I’m now sending postcards to my daughter who is away from home for an extended time - such an easy way to touch someone. I know it is so easy for me to now shoot off a quick text or email when I am thinking of someone, instead of writing an actual note. It means so much when we get a surprise in the mail and I really should do it more often. I know I love being a recipient of them, so I need to spread that love!