letters never sent


Sometimes I think social media fascinates me so much because I am of one of the last generations of letter writers.  I still have and use stationary.  It’s not always all about the instant message, text message, Facebook “private message”.

I save dribs and drabs of letters. Occasionally they fall out of books, which is where I have stashed some of them.  Usually the letter marks importance of some point in my life. Letters from a friend when they were in boarding school in England. Birthday cards sent to me when I was too little to read them. A random letter from someone in college who said I had owl eyes way back when.  Letters from a college friend after she went back to her native Sweden. Little notes with clippings of various things my father would send me, all addressed in his strong and sure handwriting.  Memories and history. Like old photographs.

I like to sent thank you and other notes. Real, honest to God, stick them in the mail handwritten notes. Now when I send them they age on the way thanks to the United States Postal Service and how they sort mail, but I send them. I have an ongoing battle with the teenager in my house and his father  about thank you notes.  Mostly I lose the battle and that makes me sad.

I think writing a thank you note is a really nice thing to do, but is becoming a lost art form. It shows (in my opinion) that you cared and is polite and gracious. It never hurts to say thank you. It is also a communication skill.

And letters. Don’t you remember the feeling of getting a letter? When I was in grade school I had a pen pal from Blackpool, England.  Her name was Peta. We were penpals for many years.  I remember buying special air mail envelopes just for my letters. I remember the anticipation of seeing a letter with a stamp from England in my mailbox.

Also  used to rush to the mailbox for my dear friend Marie Claude. I stay in touch with her still…we met as young teenagers when her family was my host family in Alsace one summer through the Valley Forge Historical Society. We were voracious letter writers for years and years. And now we are more e-mail correspondents.

Technology has allowed us to stay in touch in a more expedient manner, but somehow it doesn’t hold a candle to the old school lure and romance of letters. And so few people send actual thank you notes any longer that when I receive one I hang onto them for a while because it just makes you feel special that someone took that time just for you.

Social media like Facebook makes us all voyeurs on this bus.  You have a random thought of someone you haven’t thought of in years.  Sometimes it is a pleasant walk down memory lane, other times it is a good reminder as to why certain people are no longer in your life.

I had that happen today.  Someone I used to know whom I had “unfriended” on  Facebook years ago sent me a friend request. I literally laughed out loud. At one time, we were fairly close friends, but they are one of these people who basically are in your life when convenient for them.  After a couple decades of that I decided to quietly let this person go years ago.  The final impetus for my decision was when they were flat out rude and utterly inappropriate one time too many. Yet this morning, there they were with their friend request like nothing had ever happened.

This person once upon a time was a prolific letter writer. They actually made me think about letter writing.

The stages of life can still be followed in letters.  Only no one writes them any longer much at all. I am not the only blogger who thinks about letters oddly enough. Then Internet is peppered with posts about letter writing. People even write about letter writing being an essential skill for kids to still continue to learn today.

I read this blog post this morning called The Art of Letter Writing. Here is an excerpt:

In the days of cell phones, email, and text messages, letter writing can seem hopelessly outdated. But it’s an art worth bringing back, and not because of some misplaced sense of nostalgia either. The writing and reception of letters will always offer an experience that modern technology cannot touch. Twitter is effective for broadcasting what you’re eating for lunch, and email is fantastic for quick exchanges on the most pertinent pieces of information. But when it comes to sharing one’s true thoughts, sincere sympathies, ardent love, and deepest gratitude, words traveling along an invisible superhighway will never suffice. Why?

Because sending a letter is the next best thing to showing up personally at someone’s door. Ink from your pen touches the stationary, your fingers touch the paper, your saliva seals the envelope. Something tangible from your world travels through machines and hands, and deposits itself in another’s mailbox. Your letter is then carried inside as an invited guest.

I called this post letters never sent because there are letters I have written in my head over the years and never mailed.  They were a healing exercise for whatever reason at the time. But there are also letters I mailed and sent that captured the very essence of me in that moment. Kind of a neat little time capsule.

Anyway, not trying to go all Emily Post on everyone, but when is the last time you wrote a letter or a thank you note?

Thanks for stopping by today.

2 thoughts on “letters never sent

  1. Great post. never underestimate the value of the handwritten note, esp. thank you notes, in business! The person who sends a handwritten note is remembered. The person who is remembered is more likely to get the promotion or the job!

  2. Ya’ know….I’ve taken to having cards on hand with nothing printed inside…..I believe the message I write has more meaning than someone else’s thoughts made up in Kalamazoo or somewhere else……I’m able to personalize the thoughts I want to convey. Thanks for your post, Carla.

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