The Lost Art of Letter Writing

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

I miss receiving handwritten letters in the mail. That feeling of flipping through the envelopes from companies wanting your money or attention, then coming to a letter, written just for you was priceless.

These days there is little expectation of anything delightful arriving in the mail, as paychecks and dividends are direct deposited and emails and texts have replaced the need to sit down and write to anyone. Children in schools are neither shown the value of letter writing or, sadly, even how to write in cursive penmanship. Instead, a quick text with proper emoji placement suffices for most daily interactions and should a thank you note be required, for those who still write those, then an email is the standard etiquette for gratuity these days.

The lost art of letter writing should be resurrected. Putting pen to paper with time to do so in a thoughtful, concise manner so that the reader is at the very least, happy to know you’ve taken the time to write to them, and beyond that, perhaps moved to tears or laughter just based on your words. In today’s fast-paced communication era, so much understanding can get lost between the moments that you type and press enter. We’ve all had those “oh no!” moments and conversely have received emails and texts that we’ve wrongfully interpreted. With a thoughtful letter you not only communicate well, but you leave the intended receiver with a tangible gift they can hold in their hands, knowing you did the same when you took the time to write it.
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There are many reasons to pen a sweet note to someone you love, or someone you know who might need a pick-me-up. An eloquently written letter is priceless to the receiver and a blessing like that should be given freely. All that it costs is a few minutes of your time and a couple of quarters for the stamp and you are on your way to brightening someone’s day. Let’s make it fun again to receive mail! Here are three reasons you should write at least one letter:

  1. Selfishly, it’s cathartic to think of what you want to say and to then see it on paper. Whether you’re giving updates on your family or discussing heavy events, the words are there for you to ponder as well and can provide insight, justification, or just pleasure to re-read. Because writing a letter is essentially a one-sided conversation you really have the opportunity to hone what you want to say so that your point is received most effectively.
  2. Writing a letter is a way to spread joy and happiness. Think of how delighted a child would be if they received something in the mail that was just for them. Add a sticker and a smiley face and you are a rock star to the under-five crowd. Add $10 to the envelope and you’re now the favorite aunt to your older nieces and nephews. Senior citizens love to receive letters because it’s a familiar and comfortable way of communicating so don’t forget your older friends when you write. And for the generation that’s in the middle, a handwritten letter might be a surprising and welcome addition to their daily onslaught of bills.
  3. Sending a letter is cheap, and actually it just got less expensive with the price of stamp going down two cents. That’s right, when the price of everything else has gone up, we can look to stamps as being the one thing that is actually costing us less money. So, write your letters, send your love and know that for .47 you have made someone’s day. 

Photos: Letters by Liz West on Flickr, commercial use allowed
Letter by Annie Pillon on Flickr, commercial use allowed

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