Of all the skills of “days gone by,” I think the lost art of letter writing has to be the hardest to see go. I remember being a young girl, spraying the paper with my favorite perfume and signing it with Xs and Os. And I remember how special I felt when a letter came in the mail, how I would run up to my room and tear it open, anticipating a note just for my eyes.
Even though I am not that great at spelling, I never let it prevent me from writing. I assumed that those getting handwritten letters would consider it just part of my “style,” a part of me just like the words I chose and the paper on which it was written all reflective of who I was at that moment in time.
As a parent I have been equally saddened that there aren’t really any formal writing lessons in school anymore. I recall my boys getting upset with me when I would make them redo homework because it was not legible. Block letters, cursive, calligraphy…they are all so beautiful. I like a loopy style of cursive myself, the loopier the better. I am not sure when we decided that letter writing wasn’t worth keeping around. I suppose it is like most other things, if you can get a machine to do it, then why not. And most of us don’t like our own penmanship, so being able to click on a scroll-down bar and grab any style you want is a great deal. Yet I miss running to the mailbox and getting a letter. Actually, going to the mailbox and getting anything other than bills or junk mail would be a treat.
I wonder what the future will be like when there are no more letters to be found. No letters shoved between the floor boards in an old house or discovered in a grandmother’s trunk, telling the tale of the great love between her and grandpa. No more cherished letters between old friends and family, letters to help us remember a loved one that we lost…those wonderful pieces of paper that you grab and curl up with a box of Kleenex, prepared for the very best and the worst.
I have decided that it isn’t too late to bring them back. While I continue to journal as I have done all my life, I think that I will make a conscious effort to write letters to my kids. When that day comes and I am no longer here, they will have my words hand-written on stationery that I hand-picked, words that I carefully selected and inscribed with a pen and sprayed with my favorite perfume. I hope those letters will hold onto a hint of me, so that in those moments when they can’t quite recall my voice or my laughter and humor, they will recall that quirkiness about me.
We have let go of a lot of things in our quest for modernization. We became more global and instant. That’s okay as long as we can remember to slow down and hold onto those things that are worth holding onto. Things like the art of letter writing.