Take some time…write a Letter!

Yesterday, with the break in the weather–the milder temperatures and melting snow–I set out to unplug our outdoor Christmas lights on the back deck and those out on the tall evergreen in the far corner of the yard.

Since the dwindling snow made it rather easy to get out and about, it was pretty simple to roll up each of the orange extension cords and get them dried out in the garage until it will be time to return them to their designated Rubber Maid storage container for another year. The lights themselves will come down soon, but now they rest out there, dark and lonely.

POTD - heavy duty extension cord (basement pho...
POTD – heavy duty extension cord (basement photo so it must be a Sunday) (Photo credit: amyvdh)

It didn’t take me long, that little task, but it got me to thinking about how quickly our holiday celebrations come and go, passing into memory almost before we realize it. And I then began to recall the past few weeks and the wonderful gifts of having our kids and grandkids around, if but for a very short time to help us celebrate the season.

And so the “dismantling” of Christmas has begun and besides all of the taking down and putting away, there remains one other major ritual: Writing post-Christmas letters, thanking one and all for the thoughtful gifts, spending time with us, and sharing their holiday spirit in doing so.

For as long as I can remember, I have been an avid letter writer, and I’ve always felt that there is no better time than after the Christmas holiday to write and send letters from the heart–the old-fashioned way! No, I don’t mean handwritten by pen (my penmanship is frightful!) but typed out, printed, sealed in an envelope, postage stamp attached, and dropped in the post office to be sent on their merry way.

In this age of instant messaging, texting, and e-mail, most people fail to see much value in old-fashioned letter writing any more. But I’m not one of them. Receiving a written letter in the mail from a friend or relative has always been one of life’s greatest joys for me.

I must admit that I love all of the modern technology that has made texting, e-mail, cell phones, and other forms of social networking so readily available in our lives. Yet, all of this, I’m pretty sure, has pretty much rendered the practice of letter writing a forgotten art form. Perhaps one of the most disturbing things that speaks to the current state of communication is that many people with Facebook, Twitter, texting, and all other forms of social media don’t even e-mail anymore! To say the least, it makes me wonder where we’re going in our ways of communicating.

Still, I often write letters to friends and relatives for their birthdays, anniversaries, or to wish them congratulations for some achievement, get well wishes, or simply to send along family updates. And I know the chances of receiving any kind of reply or acknowledgement that my letter was received are pretty slim. Yet, I take great satisfaction in the simple act of taking the time to write and mail the letter.

And so I must ask: Readers, what are your feelings about the art of letter writing? Is there a place for it in our world of human communication? Or am I just romanticizing about a lost art from a lost time?

Letter Carrier Delivering Mail
Letter Carrier Delivering Mail (Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution)

In some small way, I’ll do my very best to keep the practice of letter writing alive. If anyone reading feels as I do, and would like to correspond via the “old-fashioned” way, mention so in the comments section, and we can get the ball rolling.

This idea kind of brings back memories from long-ago school days when we’d have Pen Pals. Now, as back then, it would be a fun, learning experience. Regardless, if nothing else, take some time and write a letter to someone soon. It’s a good feeling–for sender and receiver! :-)….CortlandWriter

*Note: On my “Must Read” list is a new book by Simon Garfield titled To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing (Gotham Books)

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10 thoughts on “Take some time…write a Letter!

  1. It’s like pulling teeth to get my kids to hand write a thank you card. They don’t see the value in it when they can send a text to thank the person, maybe even include a photo of them with the gift in the text. I’ve continued to fight them on this, but then sometimes I wonder why. Who’s to say I’m right and they’re wrong? It’s a new era; if they’re still thanking the person and that thank you is still just as heartfelt, does it matter the form it’s in? I’m trying to steer my feelings this way, since I suspect this is the way of the future, but personally, I still prefer to send a hand-written thank you. As for writing actual letters? I rarely do that anymore. Hmm, maybe I’m not that much better than my kids, after all. 😉

    1. Thanks for the checking in, Carrie. I appreciate your thoughts and comments. Like I said, I’m probably romanticizing a lost art from a time that has faded into the mists of the past. I know all about that “pulling teeth” business, having dealt with reluctant writers in middle school language arts classes all those years. Every now and then, though, a few of them would see the need for putting together an actual letter for certain occasions rather than firing off an e-mail or text message with all of the cute abbreviations and coded language involved. I know, I’m treading among the dinosaurs out here! Thanks again for reading and sharing. 🙂

      1. I’m with you on the abbreviations and coded language–annoying. I needed to text from my son’s phone yesterday because I was having problems with mine. He had shut off the capitalization, punctuation, and autocorrect. I could barely function!

  2. I was taught to write a thank you letter when I received a gift. To this day, a thank you letter is handwritten and mailed to anyone who sends me a gift. Usually I write it the day the gift is received so I can capture my excitement. I’m all about the handwritten letter and I try hard to keep it alive. I’ll write long letters to friends in other states. Some of my favorite keepsakes are letters written to me by my grandmother. Great post, Mark!

    1. Thanks, Jill. I appreciate your thoughts. There seems to be something “civilized” about letter writing, but that’s probably outmoded too. We can only do what we choose to do in these times. Keep writing…:) Sent from my iPhone


    1. Hi, Luanne. Fountain pen? Ink? Will wonders never cease! There’s nothing quite like a beautifully written letter that has obviously been a labor of love, displaying clear, elegant penmanship (which I’ve never had!), and all of the parts of the letter perfectly in their places. Some things in this world should never go away. Glad you checked in here and shared your “find.”

    1. Elizabeth: Glad you feel the same as I do about receiving and sending letters “the old-fashioned way” even though I know the concept is fast dwindling. I’m happy you checked in and shared your thoughts. Come back again! 🙂

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