Thursday, July 21, 2011

Do Real Letters Still Exist?


I was sorting through old letters the other day when it occurred to me:  I don't receive or send real letters any more!  Mass mailings like Christmas letters are not what I'm referring to.  I mean a newsy little sheet sent to friends and family far away, maybe with big news or maybe with daily vignettes.  I don't even exchange emails like that anymore!  People tweet, text, blog, and email, but not with the composition of a letter.


What happened?  (Are you sending and receiving real letters?)

In case the pleasure of a letter is not enough, the act of starting a letter, getting into the news, switching topics, and drawing it all to a close are skills that frequent letter-writers are working at subconsciously.  Writing skills are thinking skills, training our brains in a way that talking and texting cannot.


Ok, it's July, and I'm making a resolution:  I'm going to write one real letter a month until Christmas (I had a hard time deciding what is realistic - first it was four, then two, then one - sighhhhh).  After Christmas, I might try to enlarge the habit.

Of course, you could rightly point out that stamps are getting expensive - email can be free - so thrifty!

Well, yes, but money is the wrong bottom line for some things. 

There are other factors to consider in this case: community, my brain, my pleasure in the paper and stamps, choosing to invest in a tradition I want to see endure. . . and I got my new Philatelic the other day, and promptly went online to buy all the cool new stamps: Mark Twain! modern industrial design! groovy Love! Gregory Peck! a cool car for the Indy 500!

Just think of the fun I will have, sitting down to a little cherry writing desk in my peignor with a cup of tea, dealing with the morning's correspondence and then ringing for Jasper to take the letters to the post. . .

(linking up with Leila's pretty happy funny real collection today) Pin It

21 comments:

Jennifer Jo said...

That last paragraph busted me UP. And it's totally how I think, too, when I think about writing some letters (which I don't, probably because I have no cherry writing desk or Jasper).

Deanna Beth said...

I don't know what it means when you link with pretty happy funny real.

Kristen @ St Monica's Bridge said...

I love real letters too. My husband recently located an old camp friend who is not emailing, facebooking, blogging or tweeting and they had been penpals during the year back when they were in school and have started up again. It's actually pretty fun.

theheritagefarmgirl said...

I have friends that I keep in contact only through mail. I don't do the twitter or facebook but letters are something you hang on to. I put all mine in my journals. The art work of just the penmanship is worth the keep. best part is I can look them over and over again. Then there are circle letters. Always great fun!

Nicole said...

My girls love to write and receive letters from friends and have had many pen pals over the years. We have always tried to find penpals for them when we travel (or ask friends of ours who travel). It does seem to trickle down though over time as people just switch to email. Sad really as getting a letter in the mail is such fun. Anticipation before you open it, reading it slow and storing it away. We still get occassional letters from friends far away and they are always a treat. Maybe I just need little cherry writing desk....I'll just ring for Jasper to fetch me one....

kyleann33 said...

I like real letters too. I try to write a letter to my brother in WY every few weeks. It's so nice to sit down at my writing desk (we have Nick's grandpa's antique desk) to tell him about our latest adventures, and then Alex makes a drawing or painting to put in with my letter. I just bought the groovy love stamps this weekend, aren't they pretty?

Linny said...

One year, my New Year's Resolution was to write one real letter a month. I was in my sophomore year of college and started writing to one of my great aunts. The letters brought us closer, gave me a confidante and a friend outside of my immediate circle, and she later told me that she looked forward to my letters every month! I'm sure you'll enjoy your experience of not only writing the letters but the effect your letters will have on those who receive them!

I also need to mention that I love the photos of the children and kittens. There's something so pretty, happy, funny, and real about two species of young interacting.

Margo said...

DB, it means that if you click on that link, you go to Leila's blog "Like Mother, Like Daughter" where lots of bloggers have posted links to their posts, all on the theme of "pretty happy funny real." It's like when I do Shoestring Chic, and have the roundup/collection here at my blog. It's a fun little blog party!

and hey, you all, I'm impressed with the amount of real letters you write! Inspiring.

Attila said...

As a teenager, I had loads of penfriends and then in my 20's, I had half a dozen good friends with whom I regularly exchanged letters. One of them was someone whom I met on holiday; we wrote for 3 years, then she came to stay with me and realised how well I would get on with her friend D (male). He and I started writing and then we met and we married 15 years ago. Most of our 2 year courtship was through letters (still have them all!) Nowadays, I only have one friend with whom I still exchange letters. Here in UK, we had a song in the 80's "Video killed the radio star". Emails killed the letter. Sad. However, I do still receive and send cards of encouragement, thanks and support, so all is not lost.

Polly said...

This topic is one near and dear to my heart, because I used to be a huge letter-writer and now I barely have time for emails! But I was thinking about this topic not long ago and decided that once my youngest is 3 (& thus hitting that more independent stage) I will resume letter writing with a renewed vengeance. I do have a cherry writing desk (my grandfather made it!). So I will need to obtain a peignor and a butler.

I always love the excitement of 'the podt' in period films from the 19th century and the loveliness of having breakfast while reviewing the letters that have arrived.

My husband and I were dating and engaged just before email took over. I'm so grateful to have those tangible pieces of our early years. They are precious to me!

Margo, I am with you! I want to keep this wonderful tradition going! I'll be your penpal!

Polly said...

The post!! Oh, typos!

A said...

"Letter writing, like conversation, is often spoken of today as a lost art. The habit of regular correspondance, as practiced by Horace Walpole and other famous letter writers of the past, is dying out. This is unfortunate, as personal letters, after a lapse of time, become the mirror of their age for later generations."

Adelaide Shaw
The Homemaker's Encyclopedia:
Etiquette for Everybody
Chapter 5: Correspondence
1952

Lisa said...

Oh, the philatelic catalog! Yes, Gregory Peck, Mark Twain - did you see the Garden of Love stamps? The Edward Hopper sailboat, and the Merchant Marine stamps; my Uncle Eddie was in the Merchant Marine.

You're right about letter-writing. I do have someone I write to once in a great while - a hermit! Not as often as I should.

The kitties are adorable!!!

Sarah Barry said...

No, I don't write letters or receive them anymore :(, but my mom always sends me little newspaper clippings or recipes I might be interested in. It is such fun mail even though its not a real letter.

In February I was away from my husband for a week and I tried sending him a piece of mail every day. One was a real love letter and the other stuff was quotes I liked, photographs and a recipe I wanted to try together. He loved it all of course b/c who wouldn't?!

One a month is a good place to start, I think.

Lisa said...

I just noticed that one of your favorite books is "Nine Coaches Waiting" - mine, too! I did a (brief) post on M. S.'s books a year ago.

Beth said...

I heart real mail. AND cool stamps. Nothing like it. Just does something for your heart - a real letter does.

Margo said...

Lisa, that's so cool! I adore Mary Stewart :)

RW said...

here via Tara Thayer's blog.
letter writing. sigh. I love writing and receiving letters. this spring I set myself the same goal. write one letter a month. on the 1st. I was inspired to do so after my mom sent me all the letters I had written to my grandmother while I was away at university.

Margo said...

Hi RW - what a lovely inspiration. I'm curious if you're meeting your goal. . . :)

Cheilita said...

i just wrote one yesterday to my gram. AND i am currently using the theme of letter writing in my music therapy sessions with my clients...inspired by one of my favorite songs. check the link.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEANf4u7bzA

BLD in MT said...

I tried reviving letter writing with my high school girlfriends while I was in college. Mostly they never wrote back. One did for a while. So, I just sort of stopped. I still send thank yous and birthday wishes and a mass Christmas mailing, but that doesn't mean the same thing. I am inspired by you to try again though. Surely I could write one little ol' letter a month!

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