A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post titled “The Lost Art of Letter Writing” and it was never more obvious than this past Christmas when I received 4 cards in the mail. I just couldn’t get in the mood to even send out cards this year so only a few people got one. Nowadays we have email, facetime or texting. Sending a letter seems so old fashioned.
Growing up my grandmother corresponded with cousins by mail. Whenever they went to Florida in the winter months they would send us a postcard. I found one in my dresser when I was sorting stuff to move. My Mom would always send a postcard home when she was on vacation even if we wouldn’t receive it before she got home. It’s a way to say even though I’m not home I’m still thinking of you. Many postcards say “Wish you were here” and I usually picked out those. I found letters my grandmother sent to my Mom when they went to England shortly after my parents were married. It was very descriptive. They went to see the changing of the guard, what they could see out their window, the weather of course.
When a mutual friend was living in the States for a while Janet and I sent her letters because we knew she was homesick. When we received a letter back we would bring it to bible study and read it to everyone. It didn’t matter that the spelling wasn’t perfect it was maintaining a connection. There were other people that wrote occasionally but eventually they stopped and she told us our letters meant a lot to her. Janet and I often said that we were born in the wrong time period because we loved writing letters. It’s often said that children learn by example and Janet and I would see our grandmother and mother write letters. We loved going to mailbox at Christmas and pulling out a stack of cards. When my cousins started having babies they would put a family photograph in the card. My Mom did the same thing and when we had family photos in later years I would go to Shoppers Drug Mart and get some printed for her. It makes a generic greeting card more personal.
At the same time sending a letter makes it easier to say things that one couldn’t say over the phone. My parents both did it when they had to tell my brother of health changes. I’ve sent “break-up” letters to friends. I had to inform people on Mom’s Christmas card list that she had died. For all of these instances the wording is everything.
Cards and letters were probably the hardest things that I had to decide what to do with when I moved. There are some special ones that I kept. The sad thing is it’s also a reminder of friendships lost over time. Before there was email we had to take the time to write a letter. A college friend and I would write pages back and forth to each other. Maybe we’ve lost the ability to communicate when we sit in a room checking our phones all the time.


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