What Happened to the Love Letter?

Do you send birthday cards? Anniversary or Christmas cards? Valentine’s Day, Easter or Labour Day cards? 🙂 I know you send some or all of those. Who doesn’t? When was the last time you actually sent a non-holiday or special occasion card or letter – a real one! Not an e-card or email!! – to someone in your life? Not just your lover or spouse. It could be for a friend, family member or even an old college buddy.

When my best friend went off to university in another city – two hours away but at the time it felt like we’d never see each other again – we used to send each other cards all the time. Just plain ones, saying ‘hi, what’s up?’ or funny ones to make each other laugh. I used to have an actual pen pal, in England, I believe. I couldn’t even tell you her name now. We corresponded for about a year when I was maybe eight or nine years old. My cousins and much of my extended family live in Winnipeg, so my cousin, Sarah, and I used to write letters to each other, sending pictures of things we thought the other would like. I still like to send cards and packages with hand-written notes in them to my friends in far-off places.

So what happened? Why doesn’t anybody do that anymore? The obvious answer is that we do still write to each other, but it’s via the internet. Facebook, emails, Twitter and a slew of other methods I wouldn’t have a clue about. I’m not saying I don’t use those outlets as well, because I do. I’ll send a quick text to my brother or friends to figure out a plan for the weekend. I’ll facebook someone or write on their wall when I think about them. There’s nothing wrong with using those outlets. It’s easy, free – except for texting, depending on your mobile plan – and often, you get the instant response we all crave.

What about just writing something just for the sake of writing? In the olden days, people wrote to each other just to catch up and let them know what was going on. In today’s world, our closest friends are often physically our closest friends. We can pick up a phone and call them, send a text or walk down the street and drop in for a cup of coffee. What if your closest friends weren’t so close? What if you had to save separately just to talk to someone long distance on the phone? What if you could only facebook them and chat on-line? Would you be more inclined to write a card or letter to them? Maybe not that often, I suspect.

But… what if that person was the love of your life?

I’ll tell you something, I love to write letters. I love to write emails too, come to think of it. I am practical and it costs nothing to send an email, while sending a card or letter via snail mail costs money. I love just sitting down and writing a letter to someone, sharing what’s new and asking how things are where they are. I love being able to edit an email before I send it, correcting any spelling errors and whatnot. 😉 But even hand-writing a card or letter is a wonderful thing, errors and all. I think seeing the smudge of a finger or scratched out word is so personal, you can almost feel the person writing to you.

I especially love the idea of a love letter. How amazing would it feel if you were seeing someone, even someone who lived two blocks away, and one day in the mail, between stacks of bills and flyers, you see an envelope hand-addressed to you. Do you wait to open it after the bills? Of course not! You tear into it, thinking it might be a card and check from Grandma, or a thank you note from your girlfriend after a baby shower. Instead, it’s a love note, written in choppy printing or angled cursive expressing how much you are thought of, desired and loved.

*sigh*

Doesn’t that just make you melt? That someone thought enough of you to take the time to pick a card, uncap a pen, and write what they think of you? My goodness. If you knew something so simple could get such a reaction, would you do it more often?

As much as I love to receive those sorts of letters, I also love to send them. And not because of any desire or need to get a letter in response. I just love sending them.

Is it a dying habit? Probably. I’ll do my part to keep it going, as often as I can afford to. I love putting together packages to send to my friends. I love writing what I’m thinking about someone into a card and imagining their reaction when they receive it. If I could afford to keep a PO box, I’d list the mailing address here and wish that my readers would send postcards from all over the place!

For now, I’ll leave for the week, wondering and hoping that you’ll reach out to someone in your life like this. It’s never, ever, a bad thing to let your loved ones, near and far, know that they are in your thoughts and cherished.

Take care and happy reading.

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3 Comments

Filed under Writing

3 responses to “What Happened to the Love Letter?

  1. Lady Falcon

    My mother-in-law and my mom both send cards to my youngest daughter. She loves getting them and quickly sends off a home made card to each of them. I know they love receiving them.

    Whenever my hubby was deployed the kids and I would have a ball building care packages for him. He likes to build/tinker with things (engines, carpentry, RC airplanes and helicopters, etc). So, the kids would go down the Lego aisle and pick out stuff to send him (this was before Airhogs existed). We had to settle for toys because its illegal to ship fuel of any sort to an APO box. Hubby reported back on the once a week phone call that him and the guys were having a grand time racing the Lego Racers the kids sent.

    I think it is very time consuming to sit down and write out a letter versus typing a quick text or email but comparable to writing a blog comment on a topic that struck an interest. 🙂 It brings to mind the ladies of the Haute Ton sitting at their desks writing out invitations or replies to various Balls and “At Home”s. So, yes, I think in our immediate gratification society it is a dying art. They don’t even teach handwriting or penmanship in school anymore. I remember it being a separate subject on my report card.

    I’d send you a post card! lol Let me see if I can paint a visual…

    front side: A beautiful scene of a Cypress grove at the edge of a lake. The tall Cypress trees with their roots visible above the water and their spreading branches draped in Spanish Moss. Beyond the trees the lake water stretches out to the horizon as smooth as glass and a sun setting. In cursive at the bottom reads Greetings from South Carolina.

    Back side: an international stamp with airmail inked across it and in the address section from Lady Falcon to Tamara Clarke with a note…

    Wish you could see this for real! It’s the view from the boat ramp about 5 miles from my house. Shoot me a message on my FB wall or an email if you ever find yourself in South Carolina. xo

  2. Nic

    True, someone’s handwriting is extremely personal, like it’s a part of them. Even when you go through a box of momento’s, an old photo may give you a smile, but that hand written description on the back, telling you where and when it was taken, will give your heart a little squeeze. Especially if the person who wrote it, is no longer there.

  3. Rhee

    I sometimes exchange letters with an older couple I met when I lived in the south. They don’t own a computer and have no idea what facebook is, but they love getting letters. I usually type mine since my hand writting is poor and my spelling worse, but I also send them pictures. It is always fun to get their response back. It is usually a couple of pages long and they both write. I feel like I am writing to my grandparents though we are not related.

    I have kept a lot of letters over the years from people who are important to me. To see their handwritting is almost like having them there while I reread their words. Sometimes, when I miss my mom, I pull out some of her letters and read them. I agree, there is something so personal about getting snail mail. Even though I tend to keep emails, they just aren’t the same.

    A few years ago I started sending cards and post cards to the little kids in my life because I remembered how excited I used to be to get mail. I send a seperate card to each kiddo, even if they live in the same house. They never send anything back, but from time to time their parents tell me they got the card and were excited to get mail. It has been a while since I sent anything, maybe I will do that this weekend.

    I would send you a post card of the high desert, with cactus and sage brush with a cowboy in the background. The caption would say: Greetings from the Senoran Desert . . . setting of the wild west.

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