Listening to: Ed Sheeran's Kiss Me (makes me want to cry)
Reading: Left Neglected by Lisa Genova (awesome book)
Watching: trying not to watch anything!
I received a letter today. Huh? Not surprising, I guess you're thinking, people get letters everyday. But this wasn't a bill or a flyer, it was a proper old-fashioned hand-written letter with my name and address scrawled on the envelope in pen. The last time I received one of these was in 2009-(yeah, sounds like I'm a wee bit OCD, but I try to keep all my letters from friends and family in a memory box).
I can't remember the last time I did this. Sure, I email people all the time, I have lovely chats on twitter and Facebook and I jot a few lines in xmas cards, but I don't even know if my hand muscles can remember how to write for three pages!
Similarly, I was shocked the other day when I was helping my son write a letter of enquiry for a weekend job. He didn't even know how to formulate a letter- seems he's never been shown at school, and we have tended to encourage a quick email of thanks to relatives for gifts- the theory being it's more immediate and therefore more showing of gratitude. But I'm starting to think differently. Receiving that letter made me go to my box of letters from friends, sadly not replenished for 4 years- and read a few. And you know, the sentiment written in letters is more direct and deeper than that of an email. It's certainly more personal- somehow I can't imagine printing off an email to keep. I wonder whether it's the physical connection- my mother wrote that with her own hand and then sent it to me- a connection that is lost somehow by technology? I don't know. I guess we're all busy with our lives that taking time out to craft a meaningful letter just gets pushed to the bottom of the list. Here's Andrew Lam's take on it.
But the feeling I got when I opened that letter made me think I might try to spend a little more time writing less emotionless emails and more emotional letters - or cards. (I may just start with filling up a card and see how I go!)
What about you? Do you still write letters?
Lovely post, Louisa. I feel the same way about letters. I miss them.ReplyDelete
I lived overseas for a long time and have files and files of all the hand-written letters from friends and family. I love pulling them out and reading them.
A year ago, my best friend from primary school got in touch and sent me all the letters I'd written her when I was eleven and lived in South America. My whole year of living in Uruguay is chronicled in those letters. I can't believe she keep them for so many years. It was so special to get them back.
You've inspired me. I'm determined to write letters to my overseas friends, email just isn't the same!
Louisa, I know what you mean about the feeling associated with letters. They're special and worth treasuring. These days I only tend to write letters at Christmas - not a typed generic update but a hand written one to friends who are far away, or occasionally to elderly relatives because I know how good it is to get a letter in the mail. I too received a letter recently, from my daughter who's studying away from home and it was just lovely. As you say, there's more of a direct link, and a more personal one, than in the average email. I'll be keeping that one too! As an aside I've noticed a slight resurgence in the availability of lovely writing materials. I wonder if others are thinking along the same lines as you.ReplyDelete
Hi Jen- how amazing to get your letters back after such a long time, and what fun to read about your trials and tribulations when you were 11- I'm sure you just wouldn't feel the same way about printed out emails. Glad I inspired you!ReplyDelete
Ah, Annie- stationery- *swoon*- back in the dark ages I used to be a stationery addict and hoarded beautiful thick creamy paper and gorgeous envelopes, I collected pens and writing paraphernalia.ReplyDelete
I'm glad your daughter took time to write to you- it must have been very special receiving her letter.
I really do hope people are starting to think more about what it means to write a letter (how can you cherish a text?)...I was worried when I wrote this post that everyone would think I was being fuddy duddy and that I should move with the times- maybe it is just nostalgia? I don't know- but I'm going to put pen to paper this weekend.
Louisa, I agree -- there's definitely something special about receiving a handwritten letter. Mind you, I can't remember the last time I received or sent one. Still, with all the gorgeous stationery around it might be time to revive a dying art. :-)ReplyDelete
Hi Michelle, even if you don't get around to writing a long letter you could still equip yourself with some lovely paper and envelopes! LOL xxReplyDelete
I don't write letters anymore. My Mother does, and each month she sends me a wonderful letter full of everybody's business. I kid you not. It's quite hilarious. I keep her supplied with beautiful stationery.ReplyDelete
Hi Louisa, no I dont but on the positive side my girls make cards for their grandparents and they LOVE them :)ReplyDelete
Hi Mary, how wonderful for your mother to send you letters on such a regular basis-she sounds lovely. I'm sure she appreciates having beautiful paper to write on too.ReplyDelete
Hi Tash, I'm sure those grandparents are thrilled to receive cards and will treasure them forever.ReplyDelete
My elderly aunt and I exchange letters quite regularly, probably once a fortnight, a habit that stems back 30 years to when she wrote to me as a child. Her letters reflect her voice so vividly and are often merely a detailed saga of her latest shopping day, including what she ate for lunch and whether it was to par :) But the voice is so strong in her letters that I almost feel I'm with her on these outings. We still talk on the phone at least once a week but the letters are treasures and I hope she feels the same closeness when mine arrive in her box.ReplyDelete
PS: These days, I also write letters to my 9yo nephew and younger nieces so I hope they will learn the joy of letter writing - although the 9yo is most likely already lost to Skype :)ReplyDelete
LOVED your post, Louisa. No, I don't write letters anymore, either. I remember my mother sitting down EVERY Sunday night to write to her parents who only lived three hours away. When the DB was overseas for extended stretches with work he sent me two letters every week and I kept them all. You're right, they're such beautiful things.ReplyDelete
I'm a big fan of email, though. I feel as though I keep in contact with people far more than I would if I had to write letters. Interesting!
Sadly I haven't written a letter in years either! My husband and I had a long-distance relationship for 3 years prior to our marriage (no, he wasn't in prison :-)) and we wrote many many letters to each other during that time. I ditched them years ago -I am the anti-clutter queen!!! - but thoughts of them make me smile today.ReplyDelete
When we lived overseas for two years after we were married we both wrote our parents every week!
I used to get an ocassional hand written note from a dear old friend of my mothers - usually around Christmas but since my Mum died almost two years ago, she often pops a little thinking of you note in the mail, hand written on lovely stationery.
I had to laugh at your son annecdote, Louisa. My son had to post off a form to the uni at the end of last year and asked me if the stamp went on the front or back!!!
Hi Cheryse! It is so lovely that your aunt still writes to you so frequently- it brings a lump to my throat. It's heartening to hear that you have such a close relationship with her. And I just know that your nephew and nieces will cherish your letters- maybe not now but most definitely in the future. Keep doing it!ReplyDelete
Hi Barb! I guess email and skype are just the way of the modern world- and I agree, they do keep us in contact much faster and to wider audience than letters do. They definitely have their place. Perhaps I'm just having a big old dollop of nostalgia- but I definitely see the romance of letters- especially ones like your DB sent to you - 2 a week! For a man that's pretty amazing!ReplyDelete
LOL Amy! Now you've got me all intrigued as to where your husband was for 3 years!! I do wonder about people from our parents' generation- do they feel left out or are they happy to roll with the times? My kids, nieces and nephews are so used to email I don't think they'd even think about writing a letter to their grandparents.ReplyDelete
LOL re your son and the stamp!!! Just goes to show how often we send/receive letters with actual stamps on them - I guess they're usually pre-paid envelopes these days too.
Louisa, there's nothing lovelier than receiving a letter! The handwriting, the interesting stamps, checking out the date on the envelope to see how long it took to arrive, the delicious anticipation between the letterbox and getting inside to open it. And I used to love sitting down and writing a long newsy letter in response (well, mostly - I was also a bit of a procrastinator when it came to answering letters!).ReplyDelete
My dh used to be with the Army Reserve and we used to exchange letters when he was away... We've still got them and find them from time to time and have a bit of a chuckle!
The whole letter thing really has been seriously dented by the immediacy of email and I don't write letters any more! I think Post Offices are feeling the pinch because of our changed communication too.
Louisa, what a lovely post. I can't remember the last time I wrote a letter. It's even been a few years since I sent Christmas cards through the mail - but this year I want to change that. I'll be sending out actual cards in actual envelopes that people will get in their letterboxes. Even the thought of it makes me smile.ReplyDelete