Friday, February 15, 2013

Writing Letters - An Art, A Pastime, Our History

Dear reader and writer,

E-mail, Facebook, and of course online blogging are great outlets for much of our interpersonal connections. Living several thousand miles away from my family, and with dear friends dotted all over the globe, I love having social media to keep in contact with people whom I might not otherwise hear from for a very, very long time!

There is still value in handwritten letters, though; they were once a record of the times, as we now read entire books comprised of letters Mark Twain or Louisa May Alcott wrote, and are fascinated by the quotidian events of their now historic lives.

This writing prompt from our short stories blog (which is in temporary hibernation due to extenuating circumstances!), encouraged readers and writers and desiring-to-be-authors to pick up the pen (the literal pen), and compose a handwritten letter to somebody.

And mail it.

I love mailing letters!  I write several every week, including thank-you notes for gifts and kind gestures people have made for our family, as well as chatty missives to my grandma, friends and family members. Sometimes we includes jokes, humorous pictures or games from magazines, recipes, family photos or anything else we can stuff in.

Stationery and cards live in a small box on my dresser - they used to be in a boring
box, until my mom-in-law gave me a set of cards and envelopes in this pretty one! 
The dresser is convenient: I can write brief letters after the baby lays down for
a nap, or write longer ones in the chair and then quickly address and stamp them here
In the back, I have an old address book, and an envelope of necessaries!
The address book was from an old house, built in the 1930s in Coronado, CA
and belonging to the original owners until I visited at the estate sale in 2011.
This address book was still empty, and I knew I would need it.   
This envelope holds various stamps (I use the simple ones for business transactions,
and the cute ones - most of them supplied by my mom-in-law! - for personal letters).
It also holds stickers for sealing envelopes, and address labels.  The address
labels were free, thanks to some various charitable organizations that somehow
obtained our name and address.  
Letters waiting for a reply are stuck in the front of the box, a little sideways, so
I can see them until I make the time to sit down and reply!  
I love this truly personal interaction!  It's such a thrill to get a letter or package in the mail - I settle down with the baby on my lap and we tear it open and enjoy it fully.  Every single one is so special and so interesting.  I am interested in the choices people make in stamps, and stationery, and pens, and how they write things and even how their script looks!  You can learn a lot about a person from a letter that you can't pick up from a typed message online.

When my husband was in boot camp, and over the course of some of his Navy deployments, letter-writing has been our primary source of contact.  Perhaps it hardly needs saying that I have treasured and saved those tender notes, and will reread them many times over the years.  They are precious symbols of our love that can be shared with future generations (well ... some of them!), and they contain so much about our daily lives that seems inane now but is of increasing interest as time goes by.

Do you wish you had letters from your childhood?  I know I do!  When is the last time you wrote a letter?  Who would you like to write a letter to today?

Mrs H

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