The Diminished Art of Letter Writing

Technology always offers trade-offs.  It is wondrous, still awesomely amazing that we can hear daily from loved ones on the other side of the globe.  Long-distance grand-parenting is palatable with a telephone and an online connection.  Mamas of soldiers are relieved each time the inbox holds a letter from their child. 


We miss the archives, those bundles of letters wrapped in a ribbon, letters which have been read and re-read,  kissed and kept.  I have a dozen books of collections of letters on my shelf.  More precious yet, thanks to my brother Jim (the doctor, artist, travel expert, gentleman farmer, and the dear one who taught me how to tie my shoelaces-Happy Birthday, btw) who made copies of every letter, I have the correspondence of my mom to my dad during the three years they were separated by work circumstances. 

Now that I have just signed up for the 100-Species-Challenge, after I have been re-juiced about Fine Art Friday, am gaining some regularity in walking, in addition to adding a 40 hour work schedule for the next two weeks, and remembering my vow to finish my ironing pile, a most wonderful blogging idea has struck me brain:

Re-read my mom’s letters and quote excerpts on the blog.

I will fall in love all over again with the most marvelous woman I ever knew.

A mother of seven, functioning as a single mom, scraping the bottom of the barrel with a laugh on her lips, while her husband teaches at a college two hours away.  Some stuff simply amazes me:  I believe they owned about five junker cars with never more than two working at one time.  The letters report which car my dad would need to repair on his next trip home.  She was articulate and full of grace, and the anecdotes about the kids’ shenanigans are always related with wry humor.

Will it translate to today?  Will her words build up?  Will it make me cry?  Will it inspire me–to trust God more, to work harder, to laugh louder?  Will it be a gift to my grandchildren?  Will it make me thankful?

A thousand times yes…




9 thoughts on “The Diminished Art of Letter Writing

  1. I still write love letters. But, the only time Ill actually write to normal people is with cards for a bday, wedding, or xmas.I wish ppl would write more. Its much more intimate and personal…at least we save trees and limit trash buildup? (getting greener)

  2. I cannot think of a finer gift – than copies of letters from a parent or grandparent.  What a treasure.  Hope you will make copies for each of your sons :)You know what I am re-reading (in addition to the Declaration of Independence) this weekend?   hand-written replies to my wedding invitations… *special*…

  3. Wow!  What a gift!!  There are 8 children in my fathers family and while I’m fairly close to my grandmother of (nearing) 80, I know there won’t be much left to pass on to me.  So I asked her for one little thing.  A letter.  To me.  For after she’s gone.  I don’t know if she remembers but I pray she does.  Glad your getting organized!  I will keep you in prayer as you add things to your list.  I usually do really well and add and add away and feel great and then something happens, someone gets sick or school starts.  Then I feel totally overwhelmed with everything I’ve put on myself and go into a slight depression until my wonderful Lord and Savior reminds me that He is in control of my life and I only have need of leaning on Him for strength to get me through.  Anyway! God bless!  Kcaarin

  4. Hi Carol! Recently my mom gave me back every letter I’d written her while in college 25 years ago (I was amazed that I had written her so often.)  I think about my son who is a college freshman this year.  He faithfully sends a weekly e-mail, but we will never have a “hard copy” of his experiences unless I print them out.  There is something so very lovely about a piece of family history in a be-ribboned bundle of letters.  Sometimes I think that when we modern folks die our “lives” that have been recorded on hard drives or thumb drives will be erased or just tossed into the garbage.  Sad!  I feel the same way, by the way, about digital photos.  I always make hard copies of my favorites because I want my children and grandchildren to hold the albums in their hands.  It makes a different sort of memory.

  5. I have a bundle of letters that have been encouraging to me over the years that I keep in a quite beautiful, old-fashioned cloth carrying case, that ties with ribbons. I’ll have to go look at them again one of these days. I also found an old diary of mine and was looking through it this morning and amazed myself with how I’ve changed just since I wrote it, mostly in 2001. I agree w/ the letter writing, and none of my girls do it regularly. I still have to push them to write thank you notes, and they do, usually. I keep buying adorable note cards and telling myself, you don’t have to write a whole saga, just short notes to let people know you’re thinking of them. One of these days…..

  6. A favorite quote from Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge (p. 84): “Our correspondences show us where our intimacies lie. There issomething very sensual about a letter. The physical contact of pen topaper, the time set aside to focus thoughts, the folding of the paperinto the envelope, licking it closed, addressing it, a chosen stamp,and then the release of the letter to the mailbox—are all acts oftenderness.”And it doesn’t stop there. Our correspondences have wings—paperbirds that fly from my house to yours—flocks of ideas crisscrossing the country. Once opened, a connection is made. We are not alone in the world.”

  7. Oh, what a treasure!  I have all the letters and cards Stephen sent me while we were dating.  I think the year we were married was the year both our parents got internet access for the first time.  That was also back when people thought long distance calls were expensive, and should be reserved for special occasions.  It’s a small drawer about half full.But his great-aunt has a huge trunk full of all the letters her husband sent her, over forty years’ worth–while they were dating, during the war years, whenever he traveled.  Such a treasure for her children!

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