The Written Word

How many people write letters anymore?  I mean the good old fashioned kind complete with salutation, body and closing??   I got to thinking about that today as I was perusing a wonderful website that my friend Bernie, over at One Mixed Bag, had posted on Facebook.  It was an awesome link to a website entitled Letters of Note.  The letter that she posted was one from Richard Feynman to his dead wife.   I told Bernie that this one struck a chord with me primarily because when we were much younger I bought The Feynman Lectures for my hubby for Christmas.  It was when we were living the Navy life, money was tight and this was a pretty extravagant gift.  He had always spoken about Feynman, a well known physicist, and I knew that this was THE perfect gift for him.  (Never mind that his mother let the cat out of the bag and told him I was getting it for him…..but I digress).  And it was.  He loved it.

The letter that is posted on the blog is sweet–tells of his undying love for his now dead wife and how much he misses her.   It touched me and I am sure if you venture over there it will touch you, also.  The great thing is that there are scads of really awesome letters to explore and read on that site and I just kind of got caught up in the whole thing for an hour or so…..I think it was more the so than the hour.

When I went to college the only thing that my parents really asked of me was that I write home once a week.  Of course this was in the dark ages when computers were not the standard household item so that meant a physically written letter.  To this day it is ingrained in me to write home to my mom weekly.  The method has changed as she is a pretty high tech 82 year old and has a computer so we exchange emails instead of the old fashioned written letter but you know—I kind of miss those letters and when I do get one of her handwritten letters I get kind of excited. There is just something about holding the written word of a loved one in my hands that is indescribable.

Chris and I wrote many letters to one another when we were dating and I still have all of those.  I know that I need to go through those and probably weed them out but it is hard to part with a part of life that was so exciting and new and precious.  Those words we wrote to one another were the basis for our marriage of almost 30 years.  I am reluctant to purge my house of those quite yet.   I know that they have no significance for anyone other than us but yet—-it is a piece of history.  Our history.

Do you cherish letters the same way that I do?  Do you have any that you just would never part with?  I would love to hear so please leave me a comment!



  1. Writing a letter was one of the ways mentioned in “The Last Lecture” that is a way of standing out and making an impression in this day and age. I saved some I received too.

    • I had forgotten that is mentioned in that book! i think it is important to save little bits of history. When we went through Chris’s dad’s stuff we found a lot of old letters. In fact I found all the letters that I had ever written to them all boxed up so I guess they meant something to them even if I didn’t think they did.

  2. I still have the cards and letters that we exchanged before we were married, too. They are precious to me. In fact, I occasionally have a dream in which I go back to the days when I checked my mailbox in nurses’ training to see if mail has accumulated in it. Pretty unlikely—but it’s good to have hope. smile…..

  3. I keep all letters and cards from people. I used to write letters but I’m guilty of switching to email. My grandmother used to email more than me. She loved it!

    • Email is so much quicker and cheaper but there is just something about the actual letter and card, isn’t there? I know you can print off an email but somehow it is not quite the same. I do send many more emails than letters these days, though!

  4. I had pen pals from around the world when I was younger. Plus my mom sponsored a child through one of the those children funds and I wrote letters to him as a child too. My BFF back in university was a flight attendant for years and she would send me letters from all over the world on the hotel stationary. that was very cool! I have saved most of those, even though we have both moved on in life. I miss the old fashioned pen-to-paper.
    So I was really excited when my son’s Grade 2 class started their Sail Around The World trip. The concept is that their classroom is a ship and they all have their roles: captain (teacher clearly), 1st mate, deck hand, etc. and they are travelling to different parts of the world to learn their curriculum. And the teacher has them write letters “home” to their parents at each location (currently in Paris, France). We parents are encourage to write to our sea-faring adventurers too, and I have been sending letters. It’s been great fun! learning Caligraphy and staining the paper to give it that old look (milk and heat). I think it is such a great combination of learning through play and using their imagination.

    • Wow–you have such great memories of writing letters and all that comes with it!! I love the project that your son’s class is doing!!! That is awesome!!! What a great learning experience for the kids and the parents!! That is one creative teacher!

  5. When I first moved to Montana, I did not leave Minnesota on the best of terms. My folks were not nor never have been letter writers. I was very lonely. My Mom suggested that I write to my Auntie Loretta. She was a letter writer but I didn’t even know her well. I write a letter and got a reply! We wrote back and forth almost weekly. I got to learn some things about my maternal family I didn’t know. She sent me advice and love and I lived for those letters. When her health started to fail, she wasn’t able to write anymore. I kept writing her just the same. I wouldn’t part with any of those letters for love or money. They kept me going in a very dark time in my life.

    • I love that!!! You formed a relationship with a loved one that you did not expect to form and it was all because of letters!!! I love it. Thanks so much for sharing that with me. Hopefully those dark times are in the past. Hugs.

  6. I love letters and have saved tons of them over the years. Of course, several moves have made me become more selective and start dwindling my collection down. In some ways, since people don’t write letters by hand as much anymore, I think we’ve lost out. We’ve lost the ability to write with beauty (I mean the handwriting here). We have also lost some of the errors that come when writing from the heart, scratches and misspellings that tell almost as much as the real words. In our high-speed, high-tech world we sometimes lose touch of the time and commitment and kindness that goes into simple written communication.

    Lovely post.

    • I think as a “writer wannabe” I treasure letters . So many of the writers who comment here would have the same thoughts as you—-because as writers we treasure those things. I agree that I think that we have lost out on something when we toss the written letter aside. I always get kind of sad when I get a card and there is just a signature in it—no letter or words other than that. I always try to write a little something when I send a card because it means so much to me when someone else does it. Thanks, Lisa, for the great comment today. Loved what you wrote!

  7. I, too, love letters and miss the old-fashioned kind. And, frankly, I can’t imagine throwing any away. You are right–they document your history. And that is so, so special! Have a great day, Beth Ann. Great post!
    (Oh, by the way, the password is “mother” for my protected posts. I’d love you or any of your readers to take a look at them.)

  8. I wrote a letter to my great-aunt in Germany for Christmas. We used to go there all the time as she’s my mom’s favorite aunt. But moving here and starting my own family I never really wrote to her other than the usual holiday card and such. She apparently was so excited about the letter that I continue to write to her regularly and sent pictures of the fam. She’s not one for computers. It’s nice to be able to stay in touch this way.

    • That is awesome!! I love getting letters in the mail and it sounds like your aunt is going to love getting letters from you as much as you love getting them from her!

  9. Helen Brown says:

    I was quite interested in your blog as so many agreed that letters were more personal and that so many seemed to miss the letters. I am glad I am not the only one that goes to the mailbox and there are no personal letters,

  10. Don’t you dare get rid of letters! They’ll be antique one day…or at least momentos for family members. I too have a soft spot for the written word. The leap to reading via Kindle was even tough for me, although I love my little machine now. I enjoyed your post!

    • Thanks, Debbie!!! I may have to censor some of them….we were pretty hot and heavy in those days! 🙂 I agree about the Kindle. Chris got me one when they first came out for my birthday and I thought it was a waste of money. I am now on my third version so I guess I was wrong. They are so great for using when traveling, when waiting on appts, etc. I love it!!!

  11. I also miss letters, but am just as quilty of not writing them anymore too! Every year I write a “. . . Chronicles” which goes out with my Christmas cards (now Christmas emails) to allow people to catch up with what’s been going on in our family over the last year. Now most of my family have copied me & send out their own version of the chronicles with their Christmas messages.
    I became a poor letter writer when arthritis set into my hands – holding a pen for any length of time became painful. But it doesn’t seem to bother me to type on the keyboard, so I made the switch. But I have to say, I miss opening the mail box & finding a personally addressed card or letter inside. Now it’s just bills & advertisements, bleh!

    • Totally agree with the opening the mailbox and seeing just bills and ads!!! I have found over the years that my handwriting has deteriorated a lot and I do not have arthritis to blame! Just dependency on the computer and keyboard and laziness. I am glad that typing is not an issue for you!!! That would really be hard!! Thanks for commenting!

  12. I suppose I’m old enough (yikes! hahaha) to experience life pre-computer. I admit I’m making full use of the technology now, and could barely remember the last time I actually wrote a full-page letter.

    Having said that, I miss those good ol’ days. Moments of anticipation upon opening up the envelope, the papers’ scents, the curves of each handwritten letter… That’s why I treasure each and every one of my daughter’s handwritten notes to me. I know that soon, just like every one else, she’d be using the computer and I’d be lucky if she would use it to email her mother 😉

  13. You’ve been married almost 30 years? Man, you’re old!! He he he he he. They aren’t handwritten and they aren’t weekly, but I have letters I’ve written to Harper since before she was born. I want her to know how much she was loved from day 1, something she can hold on when I can’t be there for her anymore.

    • Too funny, Carla!!! And you know what that means—YOU are getting older, too!!! I love that you are writing to Harper—that is something I wish I had done for the boys but didn’t think about it!!! She is definitely going to love them when she reads them some day!

  14. I’m not very good about writing letters any more, but I ALWAYS handwrite thank you notes. My mother instilled that habit early on. I do have fond memories of writing to my oldest cousin when I was a child. He was enlisted in the Marines and would write to be from around the world. I loved getting the mail and looking back I realize how much he was teaching me about other cultures, etc. He’s still in the Marines and now stationed in Bahrain. I think I better get my pen and paper out!

    • Good for you and good for your Mom!!! That is something that is somewhat of a lost art. I think it is great that you wrote to your cousin and learned about the world that way!!! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  15. I love writing and receiving letters, but don’t do it as often as I’d like. I’ve not kept very many, just a few from my daughter. I have kept a lot of cards over the years, and have the “new baby” ones my mom saved, welcoming me into the family. I didn’t know about those until someone gave them to my daughter a few years ago. That was a totally surprise blessing!

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