Good old-fashioned letter-writing

I’m going to write a letter—a real letter. You know, the kind you write with actual paper and a pen. I haven’t written one of these in quite some time. Sure, I’ll often jot down short notes in birthday cards, or I’ll type out emails. But I can’t remember the last time I filled multiple pages of paper using a pen, then sent it off for someone else to read. I even bought some new stationery for this occasion.

My new stationery and trusty pen, waiting patiently for me.

If you’re wondering who the lucky recipient is (and I know you’re on the edge of your seat), I’m writing to my grandmother. The truth is, I probably wouldn’t write this letter if she had ever learned how to use email. But, despite my attempts to convince her to try it, it’s become clear that’s not going to happen. And because I’m not too crazy about telephone conversations, I decided mailing a note would be a good way to stay in touch between family gatherings.

I know I’m not the only who’s been thinking about letter-writing. Earlier this week, I heard people will gather this Sunday at Toronto’s First Post Office to write letters. This reminded me of something I read in the Toronto Star about the Post a Letter Social Activity Club. The club consists of a group of people who meet regularly to write letters and notes.

The fascination doesn’t seem to stop with writing letters, or even with receiving them. We also like to read ones addressed to people other than ourselves. Entire books of letters have been published. On Valentine’s Day, I read about the letters of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning going online. Instead of just reading transcriptions, the handwritten words can be viewed as Barrett or Browning would have seen them.

Maybe this interest in letter-writing is simply a matter of nostalgia. Or perhaps it shows that some forms of communication are forever relevant. In any case, I’m going to write this letter. I’m not sure yet what it will say, but I don’t think I’ll have a problem filling at least a few pages. This is why writing to your grandmother is a good choice—she’ll care to read every last word, no matter how much of it is drivel. I just hope she isn’t too critical of my penmanship.

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8 thoughts on “Good old-fashioned letter-writing

  1. Yeah, letters are great. I never miss a smile when my mom or dad writes me in ways that just don’t quite get across in email. Hooray for letter writing!

  2. I agree that there are no substitutes for letters. At times, I have reread letters sent by my husband when we were dating, by my mother when I was away at school & also by my daughter when she was away at school. These letters & many more never fail to warm my heart.

  3. Your grandma will keep your letter, and make sure you save her reply. My last letter-writing correspondent was my uncle Ray. An old-school journalist, he hammered out letters on a typewriter and then used a pen to copy-edit and sign. The letters allow a very personal kind of communication which is hard to replicate with modern methods. Ray passed away a couple of months ago and I scoured my house and and collected dozens of his letters in a binder, which gives me back a piece of him.

  4. “The truth is, I probably wouldn’t write this letter if she had ever learned how to use email. ” Love it.

  5. Nicky, you have inspired me to pick out one of my many packs of stationary that always lie in wait. I am then going to write someone a letter. What a surprise it will be when she gets it! Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. I read a book collection letters Karen Blixen wrote to her family when she lived in Africa and it was a fascinating read. I wish people wrote letters more often, they force us to be more thoughtful than email writing. Cool blog.

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