When I was a kid my mother sat at her desk several mornings a week and penned letters to my grandmothers. She probably had several other friends that she also corresponded with on a regular basis. When she was bent over her pad of paper, we knew not to disturb her unless there were bones. blood or vomit involved. That was Mom’s time.

So it’s no wonder that I grew up writing. I kept diaries from third or fourth grade right up through high school. I also had pen pals. One in Japan and my best friend that I left in the old neighborhood in second grade. I loved writing letters.

When Mr. Nina headed off to college I wrote him every day and sent the letters a couple of times a week. But it wasn’t one sided. Mr. Nina wrote to me a couple of times a week as well. Long letters filled with love and college pranks only guys can pull, kept me part of his life. When I went off to college my mom added me to her letter writing list and I got a letter once a week. I treasured those letters. They came every Thursday or Friday and I would read them out loud to my roommate. I told Mom years later how much they meant to me and it took her completely off guard. I think she’d be even more surprised if she knew I saved every letter she sent me.

Yep, packed away in shoeboxes are the letters from Mr. Nina and my mother. I haven’t read them in years, but since we’re moving soon I have no doubt I’ll pull them out and read through some of them again. I have no idea what my kids will do with these letters, but I just can’t part with them.

And I bet you’re wondering what precipitated this blog. Well, with Mr. Nina being several states away we’ve begun writing again. Not letters so much, but cards and little notes. Skype has made the newsy-letters not as important. When a note arrived from him the other day my heart actually skipped a beat. Just seeing my name written in his unreadable chicken scratch made me sigh. It brought me back to those many years ago when I went through the mail with great anticiaption.

And that’s what makes me so sad. My children text their boy/girlfriends several times a day. They have facebook to keep them in touch with family back home while they’re at college. And it’s good … I guess. But they’ll never know the thrill of waiting for a lover’s letter in the mail. The thought that they were thinking of you even when you weren’t with them. The romance of reading words that perhaps they’re too nervous to say aloud. *sigh* It’s just so … Cyrano De Bergarac.

The closest my children have come to writing letters are the thank you notes I’ve insisted they write to relatives after birthdays and Christmas. Now that they’re young adults they’ve developed the habit and do it without prompting from me. Their grandparents are especially enjoying it. It just makes me sad that that’s the only taste of this wonderful tradition they may ever know.

I’ve heard letter writing is making a come back. I don’t know if that’s true. I tend to think my children’s generation with the advent of cellphones and texting will lose the art of letter writing and it will go the way of other extinct animals only to be seen in museums and history books. And that would be just so sad.

So what about you? Are you a letter writer? Do you have a stash of special letters that you’re unwilling to part with? Because you know me, I’m just wondering if I’m the only one in the world with a apecial shoebox in her closet.

0 Responses to Love … Right Down to the Letter

  • You will hardly expect me to tell you any news that is contrary to that which you wrote. You know me too well.

    First let me hope that the changes in this new more–strangely– hands off world has not had a prejudical influence upon the good health of your family or their desires to return to the more elegant pen! Letter writing merges souls.It is a healer… The pleasures and pastimes of such wholly efface from our mind time, distance and all longing for the physical arms we so miss. Words, made tangible upon the page, become watermarks upon the heart.

    It affords me great happiness to find letters which I receive from those away and equally great pleasure in returning the favor. Perchance they, like I, have a hidden treasure box as well.

    Letters are treasures, you see, even if we keep them buried for years.

    Trusting that you will favour me with an early reply,
    I remain,
    My dear friend,
    Yours most respectfully and truly…..

  • Letter writing is close to my heart. I have been pen paling since high school and raised four children while writing to over 125 pen pals and most were ones I never met but we grew together in letters and since I have met many of them and still remain friends. Now after many years and many loses because of death or cost of rising postage I have only about 80 pen pals that we share our lives with. I have some since in the 60’s and what we have shared can never be replaced. I look forward to mail time and getting to hear what they have been up to. I do not mean just a page letter about the weather either..our letters range from no less then two pages on both sides to as many as 8 pages on both sides..depending on what we have to share. I can not think about ever not being able to write by pen and paper. Yes I email once in awhile if they have a computer and I want to tell them some important at once but otherwise my letters are hand written. Let’s hope this art never goes completely..to me a letter you can hold is just like a book..I much rather hold a paper and read then an ereader. Call me old fashioned but that’s fine..I have made many memories that can not had been made any other way. Thanks for taking time to read my letter here. Want a pen pal..email me with your snail mail and a brief description of you and hobbies..I will send you a letter back. susan Leech garysue@dejazzd.com

    • Susan – What a gift you are. I can’t even imagine having so many pen pals. It is amazing how relationships grow through the written word. Your friends are fortunate to have you as a pen pal. Thank you for your kind offer to include me in your circle of pen pals, but my plate is very full at the moment. Take care and keep writing!

  • My husband and I insisted, yes insisted that our girls write letters to each other soon as they learned to write. He thought it was corny at first, but after reading one he pushed them to keep it up. What it felt like to have a sister. Now at 21,17 and 10 they are each others best friend. At one point they started recording little interviews with each other about their day in school. I came across a recording one day last year and my fathers voice was on it,they were accusing him of cheating at checkers. My father died back in 2005, so this was a serious kleenex day for me. A text can not show the slant of the letter, or the scribbled out word. A text doesn’t have the scent of gardenia that I associate with my mother or Calvin Kleins Curve of my father. A text is just the alphabet arranged neatly, a hand written letter is an affirmation of your space in someones day.

    Never stop writing. Mary G.

    • Mary – Ohhhh, how sweet that they did that. I’m sure those are letters they treasure. And how wonderful for you to find the recording of your dad’s voice. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Yeah, going the way of the Dodo bird. No question about it. I write cards on occasion, but typing is much easier for me as I have awful penmanship and terrible writer’s cramp. I view email as letters, texting…just a matter of shifting your perception of what is a letter.

    • Julia – Typing is so much easier for me especially with the MS and I have typed long letters to my mom now and again. And I will admit to loving email, but we rarely say anything substantial in emails and I never save them or print them out. I am so sad my children won’t have the written history that I have in my mother’s letters. It makes me sad that’s all. But I’m a sentimental sap anyway.

  • Everyone of my generation write letters, except our children. But this is slowly changing. On my last move, my daughter found a box of letters inside another box. They were letters that I had written to a child just after WWII. In school, we had to choose a child from another country and start writing letters. I chose Madelaine. Why, just because I liked her name. Madelaine was special. In my child mind, she was just for me. A friendship and a very strong bound developed over years. We wrote to each other 3 or 4 times a year, until she died 5 years ago. We wrote to each other for more than 50 years. I have memories that emails, unless you print and keep them, will never let you have.

  • Christiane – Thank you for sharing such a heartwarming story. It is amazing the relationships that can develop through letters. I’m sure your daughter was touched by the correspondence.

    And you’re so right … unless we print out those emails, which I haven’t. We won’t have them to share with another generation. Thank you so much for stopping by.

  • Your post took me back to the time before my DH and I were married. He was a year ahead of me in college, so he took a year off to travel with a gospel team. We lived for letters from each other and yes, there is a large shoebox in our closet filled with them. People share things in letters they might not in an email or even in conversaiton. I suppose someday our children or grandchildren will go through those loveletters and shake their heads in amazement.

    However, I have to say I’m so glad for emails and Facebook. It helps me stay in touch with my far-flung family. The immediacy makes us part of each other’s lives in a way that a letter couldn’t.

    • Mia – It’s so true. Letters are so intimate, but emails are immediate. I’m so bad picking up the phone, but facebook makes it so much easier to keep up with my family. Still, I miss the long letters from my mom.

  • I write few letters…easier to send email or pick up the phone. I do, however, send birthday, get well, anniversary, etc., cards. Don’t send those through email.
    Kids don’t write letters…their generation will skip that.
    I still have letters my husband sent when he was away for a year (Army) in Korea. Will never part with those.

    • Marianne – *sigh* Those letters are treasures, aren’t they? I’m thinking I may have to go through the letters from my husband and censure a few of them before my kids can read them. 😉

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