Saturday, October 24, 2009

Letter Writing

We live in a great period with all kinds of technology at our fingertips, but there's one thing in the world of yesterday that I miss. The personal letter. Once the computer and e-mail came along, the personal letter began to shrink. Today, I seldom go to my curbside mailbox and find a personal letter among the bills, ads and pleas for contributions.

My mother and I exchanged letters on a weekly basis for a good many years. It began when I was in college, away from home for the first time. That once-a-week letter kept us in touch. It was a time when making long distance phone calls wasn't done on a whim as we do today. The letters continued when I was out on my own, teaching an hour away from my parents' home, and then into my married years. I looked forward to reading about the everyday things in my mom and dad's life, and my brothers while they were still living at home.

I read a book several weeks ago that was comprised of nothing but letters from one woman to various other people. Through those great and interesting letters, an entire story was told.

Years ago, people tended to save letters, and much of our history is gleaned from studying letters of a certain period. Or letters that were written by well-known people--politicians, entertainers, explorers--gave us insight into their lives, the times they lived in, and the people they loved. It's pretty doubtful that e-mails are kept stacked together, tied with a satin ribbon as some letters were.

I love e-mail because of its ease and speedy delivery, but it lacks something the personal letter has. It seems to me that many people who could never get around to writing a letter will dash off an e-mail without blinking. I've not quite figured that out. Is it because to write the letter, it's necessary to find stationery, pen, address label and stamp? Is that too much to do when reaching out to someone with a personal letter? For some, it is.

I have a second cousin who still writes personal letters to me, and I return the same to her. It pleases me greatly when I open the mailbox and see the envelope with Ruth's handwriting scrawled across it. I know I'm in for a treat in the several pages that are in the envelope.

How long has it been since you've either sent or received a personal letter? They're still kinda neat.

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