Sunday, August 28, 2005

My love affair with letters - Part One - Why I love getting them

Today I was at a friend's house and saw a little picture in her bathroom that said, "Some people write letters and other people don't. That's not a criticism. That's just how it is."

It got me thinking.

I love letters. I love coming home and finding something -- anything -- in my mailbox that isn't junk or bills or some other piece of paper that might, if it's lucky, get stuffed into a file somewhere.

I've been lucky enough to receive post cards from various corners of the world this year and they currently decorate the front of my fridge. The most recent one arrived from Madagascar earlier this week. (Thanks, Sabine!)

One year when I was in college, I had almost a whole wall full of postcards I'd received over time. It was both entertaining to look at and quite the conversation piece.

I rotate old with new now, so things don't get so cluttered, but I do tend to savour the cards for a good long time. I take them off the fridge every now and then, flip them over, read them and then pin them back up, re-examining the picture(s) on the front.

But if postcards are delicious little delights, letters are full courses to be savoured.

Every year, around my birthday or at Christmas, I have three cousins, and a few other family members and friends, who typically send cards and letters. I save the birthday cards until the actual day of my birthday, so they seem all the more special when I open them. But more significant are the letters.

Sometimes I wait a day or two to read them. I wait until I have a decent amount of time to myself, free of tasks demanding my attention. I make myself a cup of tea, lace it liberally with milk and sugar and possibly forage a cookie or two. Then, I take the tea, cookies, and the letter into the living room, where I settle myself on the couch, either with my feet up on the coffee table, or tucked under me, as I'm curled up. I unfold the letter, usually written on blue or white letter paper, in anticipation of the handwriting that I've come to know over a lifetime -- or at least many years -- of these customary letters, take a sip of tea and then sit back and enjoy the news.

With advances in technology, there is little need for these letters. We e-mail. We Skype. We text. And I have an excellent phone plan on weekends that allows us to talk for a super rate. We can communicate more and faster than we ever could before. And we do. Today alone I was texting with three family members in the U.K.... and e-mailing with friends across the globe.

But nothing will ever replace letters.

To me, they're not just sheafs of paper that I scan over quickly and discard. They're small treasures that I enjoy as an entire experience... gifts of time and energy that make me laugh and keep me feeling connected to folks who are far away.

And in case you've ever wondered if I actually read your letters and if it's worth it to even write them... well... now you know. I hope that we're never to technologically advanced to share such gifts that travel from one heart to another via pen and paper.


Bast said...

Ah, letters - now the rarest form of communication. I even get email cards for my birthday now - sigh. But with the price Canada Post charges for stuff, I quite understand. We live in a time of flux and change - may we survive it!

zouzou said...

I'm with you! I ADORE letters and mourn the demise of them. I particularly like the idea of receiving fat, juicy letters "crossed and recrossed" as my favorite historical romance novelist remarks. Back in the days, leisured people had the time to do those things - which makes one pause: what the heck are we doing with our time now? working too much, no doubt

Emz said...

Oh yet another reminder of how useless I am at putting pen to paper! lol...
Paper is very hard to come by in the outback of Kent u know!

x x x