SATURDAY READS: Revive the Art of Letter Writing


A hand written letter…

There’s nothing like sitting down in your favorite armchair with a hand-written letter from a friend or loved one. I found a box of letters in the attic of an old house that I was renting. Examining the postmarks on the envelopes I discovered that these letters were written forty-five years ago. I felt like an archeologist who found a missing treasure. When I touched those old letters and envelopes I was taken back to a time before emails and computers; to a time when penmanship was taken seriously and something to be proud of. I remember what it was like to write letters the old fashioned way; writing on special stationary with your favorite pen; buying beautiful seasonal or collector’s stamps from the post office, and sending it off by dropping it in the mailbox. The anticipation of receiving a letter in the mail was wonderful, and when it finally arrived and you plucked that envelope from your mailbox you got double the pleasure – both the envelope and the letter inside.

Do you save your precious letters?

Did you sit in your favorite chair or on your bed and read a letter that meant the world to you? Just the fact that you could do that; take out that special letter and read it again and again is something that no email can replace. That person’s handwriting transcends time and space; email can’t do that. We can’t impart our individuality in our emails like a pen and paper can do with our own handwriting.

Like an old book that is handled with love and care, a hand-written letter can last for many years into the future. Who will be reading your emails 50 years from now? A handwritten letter can be read over and over again for many years, just like these letters that I found. They were 45 years old! And even after all those years I could still sit in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee, and by reading them, go back in time to when the author was putting pen to paper. Old letters contain history. In Canada in the 1950’s and 60’s Canada Post used to postmark the envelope with the date and time, something that is not done anymore. This simple little gesture allowed you a glimpse of history in both the envelope and the letter. In one letter the writer describes shopping at the Eaton’s in Calgary in 1960; and in another she tells about the unemployment troubles and lack of jobs. This glimpse into the past and into the writer’s feelings; their hopes, fears, loves, and dreams, is there in her own handwriting, and you can feel these emotions just by feeling the pressure of the pen to paper that the writer used.

Begin Writing Letters

Wouldn’t it be nice to leave a legacy behind for those you love? What if you could write a letter to your grandchild or your children and know that letter would survive your own lifetime? Your words could be read over and over again and cherished. Your loved ones will always have something intimately personal–a hand-written letter and your words on a page. ■

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