Letter Writing: A Lost Art

writing letter0001While my son is in basic training with the Air Force, we can only communicate via mail. Remember the mail? Where you wrote out the envelope and applied a stamp?  In this world of emails, text messaging and skype, old fashioned letter writing is a lost art.

The Saturday before Mother’s Day, I received flowers from my oldest and his wife.  I also received a letter from my son in basic.  I had hoped he’d be able to call, but not until the 4th week.  This letter is most precious. It’s short. He wished me a happy mother’s day. He’s fine and wanted more football news.  So mundane, but I find myself reading it over and over. I’ve saved them all.

I now understand the importance of letters to Regency women. This was their only lifeline to news and to each other. I imagine that waiting for the post could be the highlight of the day. Writing letters was their only form of communication when they were apart.

Distance was another factor. Today we think nothing of driving thirty miles to visit someone.  We track distance in the number of minutes we can get there in. Not so with my Regency characters.  Even five miles was a great distance if one had to walk. In an Unexpected Wish, Anne and her family can’t afford a horse, so she walked everywhere.  Letters were precious.

sealedletterIn his last letter, my son asked that we write more. I’d like to think he’ll save these letters from home, treasure them as we treasure his. I’m probably wrong, but it has been a good experience for us both.  Hearing from a loved one in written form, where you can hold it in your hand, fold it and re-read it again and again, is an amazing experience.

When was the last time you physically wrote a letter to someone you cared about?

12 Comments

  1. My daughter is deployed right now and she loves the letters her family writes even though we get to email sometimes. She says it’s because she has something tangible to hold and she knows our fingers have touched the paper.

  2. I had to send my daughter a letter and I can’t even remember her address. I have to look it up on my Amazon account! Pathetic!

  3. My son is deployed also and while he was in basic we wrote letters. (The girlfriend got a few more than I did.) But I was surprised that he saved them all from us and his girlfriend. They are safe in his room at home. Letter writing is becoming a lost art, but technology keeps them closer. I can “see” him when we skype and talk to him in real time on facebook. I’ll take that!

  4. I love letter writing; in fact, there are 3 people I write regularly (my best friend–a MAN–back home, an old friend from grad school, & my brother. I even wrote a blog post about the lost art of letter writing for my library’s blog: http://bit.ly/I4kulw

  5. The last letter I wrote to my son in Afghanistan was returned to me unopened…as we’re the boxes of needed item he requested ……seems the mail is a bit unreliable over there for Troops on the move. However , his one and only letter reached me and I added it to the treasure trove of letters I had received while he was in Basic Training. Precious indeed!
    On another note, circumstances required me to move away from my dearest friend of 27 years. We raised our children together and whenever we were together our joy was contagious (or annoying depending on ones perspective). She gave me a journal entitled: Sisterhood of the Traveling Journal” and we have been passing it back an forth via snail mail for 3 years now. It’s so much fun to receive it. Sometimes I start at the beginning and others I go directly to the current entry. The journey of our friendship will continue in this fashion even now as she is moving to Europe! I expect the postage will not hinder us. My friend has the most beautiful script and my hand cramps because I am so excited to “talk” to her. This may seem rather old-fashioned to most but, to me, sharing o the written word is very personal and it makes my heart feel hugged!

  6. I still have the letters my son wrote in basic. More importantly, I have the letters my husband and I wrote while we were courting (before the days of computers, internet and email). We had once a week telephone conversations because he spent the whole year before we married in Central America.

  7. I wrote letters to my brother when he was in basic, too (he was Coast Guard). He’s quite a bit younger than I am, so we hadn’t been close siblings, but it was fun to write a real letter. And my brother said receiving them (from all of us) was the best thing about basic 🙂

  8. I have relatives who don’t own a computer, so we write letters I look forward to hearing from them. Nothing like sitting down with a cup of tea and a long, newsy letter.

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