It was a ritual for them. The letter would arrive one afternoon and before the week was out, Mom would sit at the desk, pull out lined paper and a fine point pen and prepare her response. First she would comment on the incoming news. Next, our weekly comings-and-goings would be delivered in perfect penmanship and impeccable grammar. The envelope would be addressed, a stamp placed in the right hand corner, with the return address on the left, and out to the silver-gray mailbox she would go, raising the red flag to signal that there was outgoing mail. Right about a week later, another letter would come, and the response would follow. This was the way my mom stayed in touch and formed a close connection with her mother-in-law, my Granny Chambers.
I wonder who started that tradition. Did Granny write the first letter? Or did Mom? I wonder if they had made a pact to write weekly, or if the tradition developed out of habit, a sense of responsibility, or love? Certainly those are not questions I can ask at this point, because both of them are deceased... but I have a question to pose to present-day readers: Has letter writing become a true lost art?
It's so easy, even on a whim, to draft an e-mail. Or a text. Or an instant message. Or a facebook post to a long lost friend. Sending it is a breeze...No having to look up (or remember) an address. No stamps. No waiting! Ah, instant gratification. Admittedly it's great to stay in touch! That's how I've been rolling for some time now. But the other day, I wrote a pen-and-paper letter to my friend.
My penmanship is not as pristine as it was in elementary school. No sweat if I make a mistake. Life is messy, and so is my writing! Though I did start over, not in an effort to have the letter be "perfect"...Perfect is so overrated. I gave it a read-over and realized that I had not presented my thought coherently the first time, and it's so important to me to truly communicate what is on my heart and mind. In truth, this could very well be a letter that the receiver might treasure and keep to re-read whenever the mood strikes.
How many times, through the miracle of the internet, have I quickly responded to a digital message, and then said, "I sure wish I hadn't said that"! Had I been writing the old-school way, in letter form, I would have changed the wording, for sure. Sometimes lightning fast doesn't serve me well.
I for one am going to try to sit down and write a letter to a friend or family member every week. I'm going to lose myself in delicious nouns
and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and conjunctions and
contractions as I choose them with delight. With any luck, my letter will be received as a treasured gift, created thoughtfully and carefully, with love...and will find its way into a 'treasure box' when it reaches its destination.
I for one am going to use Monday morning as writing day. How bout you?
Until next blog post,
peace and love to you...