The Lost Art of… Letter Writing
By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner
I love letters. Those old fashioned, hand-written letters that I used to write with some frequency to close friends. The letters that I still cherish and store in a box to re-read on rainy days.
This weekend while at my aunt’s house for Easter, my aunt told me she had found a letter written by my grandmother and she thought I would like it. I couldn’t wait to read it. My grandmother was a wonderful letter writer. She wrote very detailed letters, allowing the reader to feel like she were there with her.
As I sat down to read my grandma’s letter, I traced her handwriting. It is so familiar, and evokes a sense of well-being. I opened her letter, noting it was not dated. As I read the letter, I tried to piece together the clues and determine when the letter was written. Her descriptions of two days during her and my grandpa’s visit to Montana during Christmas time in the early 1980’s made me laugh and brought back so many memories. Memories of when all three of my grandparents were alive and we would have get-togethers at my house. Memories of sledding marathons with my brother. Memories of horrible winter storms, our cars sliding sideways on our steep driveway and then hours spent digging our cars out of our neighbor’s driveway. Simple, childhood memories, but all precious.
I called my mum, excited to talk with her about the letter and to try to piece together when the letter took place. I also wanted to see if she remembered the events of the letter. It was wonderful laughing and sharing with her, all due to a letter written long ago.
I know in this day and age of e-mail, texting, and twitter, that letters are old fashioned. We are accustomed to the instant update and the instant response. It takes time to write a letter and even longer to receive a response. And yet, there are some things that take more than 160 characters to express.
I wonder what will fill people’s treasure boxes 100 years from now. When we were cleaning out my grandfather’s things, some of his greatest treasures were letters. A precious letter from my great-great grandparents in Ireland nearly 100 years ago. Love letters from my great-great grandparents here in the U.S. 100 years ago. They were windows into the past and into my heritage. I learned about their concerns, their dreams, and politics from the time. I was able to feel a connection to people I had never met, yet had heard so much about. It is something that cannot be emulated in an email or a tweet.
I still write letters every once in a while. Sometimes, after a few paragraphs, I begin to express myself in ways I never would when typing. There is something freeing about writing cursive, as though I am able to tap into deeper emotions or thoughts. I wonder that the next generations will not have that option as cursive becomes more and more rare in the school curriculum.
Do you write letters? Do you have a treasure box of letters?