The Write Stuff

P1010905This past week I was thinking about how things change over time.  I must be feeling nostalgic or something but I spent a little bit of time reminiscing about how things used to be when I was younger and one of those memories was about how we used to communicate with one another.

I went to a college that was several hours away from where my parents lived and since it was long before the ease of having cell phones at our disposal we had to come up with other methods of keeping in touch.  The one thing that my parents asked me to do when I left for college was to write a letter to them each week.  The cost of a postage stamp when I started college was a mere 15 cents and by the time I graduated it was up to 20 cents. Still, it was an affordable way to keep in touch.

But that meant that I actually had to write that letter!!!  It seemed like a very small price to pay for the education that my parents were paying for and so I did it.  I think I was pretty faithful in sending that weekly letter but my mom could tell you more if that is an accurate memory.

What I do remember is that I used to have fairly decent handwriting.  Or at least I thought I did.  But these days my handwriting has devolved into somewhat of a scrawl and I have to really concentrate to make my handwriting legible.  I think it is a combination of being in a hurry and the constant use of computers.  I am out of practice.

During Lent the past couple of years I have added something instead of the traditional giving up of something.  I have sent a handwritten homemade card or letter to someone for 40 days during that time period.  Each day I choose someone near or far to send a card to to tell them what they mean to me in my life. It has been the best thing I have done and it has become a practice that I look forward to.  I have heard back from nearly every single one of those 40 people telling me that it was nice to get a card or letter in the mail.  While my motivation is not to receive thanks it has certainly been a wonderful end product from a discipline that I have felt I needed to practice.

When we cleaned out my in-law’s house I discovered a drawer that held letters and more letters.  It seems that Chris’s mom saved every single letter that I had ever written to them over the years.  When we got married we moved away from our families and lived in Orlando, Florida where Chris was in the Navy. I continued to write weekly letters to my own parents and I suspect I wrote almost weekly letters to Chris’s parents from the looks of it.  I was amazed that she kept them all.

The other day I pulled those letters out and started to leaf through them. Did I write anything that was amazingly wonderful or creative?  Nope.  The letter at the top of the page was my first letter written as Mrs. Chris Chiles after we arrived in Orlando post honeymoon.  Oh I was so young!!!  But to know that my mother in law thought that they were worth saving makes me smile.

Writing letters seems to be a thing of the past.  WIth email and instant messaging, Facebook and all the other modes of social media the handwritten letter is a rarity these days.

When was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter to someone?

Does an email carry the same weight or so you miss the days when the postal carrier delivered more than just bills and junk mail?

Do you have any letters that you cherish?  I would love to hear about them.  Feel free to share in the comment section.

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  1. I agree with you.. There is just something special about a letter. I got a card last week from a book blogger in Belgium. It was amazing to see her handwriting. I felt so much more connected than when I receive emails… Just like your cards make me feel. I struggle with writing… Between all my typing and my squiggle of a signature I use at work to sign checks I sometimes feel like I can barely write my name

    Happy Birthday!

  2. I do miss getting mail that’s fun instead of bills. Or advertisements. I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing letters, but we sit down a few times a year and send cards to people. Not as nice, but it’s better than just bills. By the way, how much are stamps now? Do they still deliver on Saturdays? They were thinking of getting rid of that when I was leaving.

    Loved your idea for Lent. Very thoughtful.

    • A few times a year is better than nothing in my humble opinion!!! Stamps are 49 cents now and yep–still have Saturday delivery. although we rarely get anything of worth on Saturday for some reason.

  3. “Snail mail” has the additional ‘human touch’ attribute that absolutely no correspondence on the ‘net could have!!! These days, the art of ‘writing’ isn’t even a taught subject (evidenced by those who are currently of that age!!!!). Another “dehumanizing” factor in our current age….sad. And, yes, I have many letters saved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Handwritten cards and letters really do stand out, especially since we send ecards and emails and get so much junk mail. I like to send them, too. When I grew up, we still wrote letters and notes until email and text messaging began. I signed up for a pen pal through a pen pal service and thought that was pretty nifty.

    • I had a pen pal from Kyoto when I was in grade school. We shared letters back and forth for a year or so before we tired of it, I guess. Fun memories!

  5. I have all the letters I wrote to my Mom and Dad when I was at college. Mom saved them. I have her letters and the two or three that Dad sent. I am not a good letter writer. I am not good at email. I get so anxious to talk to the person I want to talk to that I just want to pick up the phone so I can hear their voice and nothing gets misinterpreted. I am not good on the phone either, I want face to face.. 😀 I so cherish my Mom’s letters to me when I was in college and when CH and I were just married and he was in the Army.
    Happy Birthday Beth Ann!

    • I love that you have all of those. I do have all the letters that Chris and i wrote to each other when we were dating…..I may have to burn some of those someday. 🙂

  6. I miss this lost art. I have all my father’s letters home from the Korean War.

  7. Oh, Beth Ann, I love this post. How wonderful that your mother-in-law saved your letters. My mother-in-law also saved some of mine and I’m sure my mom saved every single one I wrote.

    I kept letters written by my paternal grandmother and all of the letters written by Randy in the months we dated. A letter from him would arrive in my mailbox every Thursday.

    Just a few days ago one of my dearest cousins sent a three-page letter. She doesn’t have a computer or easy internet access. I write letters, but not by hand. I type them on my computer and print them out.

    I cherish handwritten letters. They are treasures. Just as is that note card you sent me during Lent.

    • I think most people who have letters like this cherish them. They are part of our history!

      • I failed to mention that I have copies of letters sent by a woman in Germany to my grandmother. My Grandma Josie donated some clothes during the war effort and tucked her address inside a little girl’s coat pocket. For years Josie and Elfriede (the mother who got the coat for her daughter) exchanged letters, until Grandma died quite young. In recent years, the daughters of Elfriede were “found” and one of my aunts has exchanged emails with one of them.

  8. I no longer handwrite anything because my handwriting is illegible (even to me sometimes!). I have many letters I’ve both written and received over the years stashed in a box in a closet – there’s nothing that makes me more sentimental and a little teary than reading the letters my father wrote to me when I was at summer camp.

    • I love that you have those letters! My dad wrote a little letter to all of us kids that my mom found years after his death. I treasure that one as I am sure you treasure those from your dad. Thanks for stopping by!!!

  9. I’ve ALWAYS been a letter-writer, Beth Ann, and I’m glad to know you were, too. My late dad never asked for a present on gift-giving occasions. ‘Just write me a letter,’ was his No. One request. That probably shows how valued letters were in my family. When one of my childhood friends moved away (we were in junior high at the time), we started writing letters and continue to this day (though the hand-written part has evolved into a typewritten form!). And yes, my penmanship has suffered since I spend so much time at a keyboard these days. Thanks for your suggestion for Lent — I might have to borrow that for next year!!

    • It has really been the best thing that I have done for Lent ever. Instead of focusing on giving something up I have added something really meaningful and focuses it on someone else instead of my “suffering”. Go for it !

  10. How lovely. 🙂 It’s been a couple of years since I’ve written and actual letter but that’s not too bad I don’t think…lol

  11. Such a wonderful post! I do miss the days of handwritten letters; the closest I come to doing that these days is sending a handmade card (always with a line or two written at the bottom). I love that your mother-in-law kept your letters! I always send cards to my in-laws for occasions, and my MIL never really mentioned them. But one day, she opened a drawer in her dining room, and took out a plastic zip lock with ALL the cards I’ve ever made them. I know what you mean about it bringing a smile!
    I do have some old letters written by my aunts, and I treasure them.

    • I love that your MIL saved all of those cards. That is not a big surprise as I think most people really love getting a handmade card from the heart.

  12. elinwaldal says:

    There is nothing like sending a letter today–even a note! I feel as if you can’t help but bring joy to the recipient. Like you, there was a time when I wrote lots of letters, it has been both fun and horrifying to re-read some of the ones I mailed to my parents. I love your Lent tradition, it seems like such a positive spin on the tradition of going without something such as caffeine or chocolate.

    • It really has made Lent more meaningful to me the years that I have done this. It is a good structured thing for me to do—to take time to thank people who have made a difference in my life that I may not have told how much I appreciate them. I know how much I love getting a letter so I hope that my cards and letters have brightened a few days.

  13. I have spent the last month and half writing actual letters!! The first few drafts I did actually discard due to atrocious handwriting. I forced myself to go slower after that and really try to concentrate on what I wanted to say to the person. I just mailed my first big stack! It cost me over $20.00 — granted most of mine are going to the USA and some farther. So I have another stack that I need to get more stamps for this week.
    It’s been really great fun getting back into this habit. I know that I loved receiving actual letters from fellow bloggers and other people in my life: and I hope I can pay some of that good vibe and smiles forward.

  14. Love this post. I have a box of letters/cards I mailed my first husband while I was away at college. He saved them. Priceless …. yet I can’t bring myself to read them.

  15. Yes, I still write letters and not cards to distant friends and family. So sad to see that many people though no longer write letters. To me writing letters add just a special tough to the message. It’s a long lost trait I do believe. And yes, I do have many letters saved also. In fact went through a large stack after first of year while I was cleaning out a closet – great time reading those items again.

  16. Letters. I do remember. My mother and her sibs (including her brothers and dad) were big letter writers. Calling was expensive and everyone was spread out. My great aunt saved every letter from her nieces and nephews (my mom, sibs) and her brother (my grandfather). I loved reading those letters. My Mom leaving home to move to New York (my Mom said she wrote once a week because the return letter always included a $5.00 bill!) and her adventures, my aunts nursing school trials and tribulations and my uncles days as a Marina. Dearly departed Joe’s family saved letters too and most were left behind in our house. I added them to my treasure trunk. I save e-mails from my family (just cause) but they aren’t as golden as a letter. I’ve saved your cards too! Because they are very special too.

  17. Becky Miracle says:

    Your sissy and I wrote almost every week. We would start a letter, which looked like books sometimes by the time we mailed them, but they were a way to connect and keep us friends for 54 years! I miss picking pretty papers and stamps and cards…I miss the excitement when you get it in the mail, but at the same time, I am SO thankful for the advancement with email, FB etc. where we can keep in touch quicker and feeling almost like we are right there!

    • I totally agree with all your wrote! I loved getting new boxes of pretty stationary and picking out the right paper to use for a letter to someone special. Now it is difficult to even find stationary unless you go to a specialty store, isn’t it? I do love the quickness that modern technology affords us but there is nothing like a letter in the mail to make me smile!

  18. Letter writing is an art, a lost art. Technology is a blessing and a curse, with its immediate gratification. I think that with letter we also put more thought into things. With emails, we tend to rush it off, either forgetting things or perhaps regretting things we say.

  19. Oh, my, you are speaking my language when you talk about letter writing. I am a passionate advocate of putting pen to paper. Nothing quite like it when you open up the mail box and have something tangible in your hands that you get to open, not to mention seeing the charming, if not messy, handwriting on the front. I could go on and on, but all that to say, is I love that you sent a card for 40 days during Lent. This is completely awesome. Off to ‘tweet’ this goodness

    • I love that you found this little post right up your alley!!! I think there are more folks like us than I had originally thought! I am thrilled to hear your comments and know that I touched a note with you! Write on!!!

  20. billschickel says:

    Great to hear you Tuesday morning on KCMR Radio!

  21. Great post Beth Ann! I actually made it a New Year goal to reach out to a friend, near or far, in a special way, monthly. That has mainly been through just because cards, postcards and sometimes even fun packages. As for the packages I have even sent some anonymously which has been fun!

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