Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Word About Handwritten Letters

 In a world of home computers and printers, cellphones, e-mail and texting, have handwritten letters  become a thing of the past? I receive letters in the mail with what appears to be a hand written name and address, only to open it and find that it's some solicitation for car insurance, spit out by the thousands, maybe millions, by a computer. I know of people who have shoe boxes filled with handwritten letters from bygone eras. They are lovely to sort through, and see the personality of the author on the page, and read the personal history contained on a slip of paper. We romanticize letters written from husband to wife in times of war, and across long distances, and treasure signatures of presidents dead for centuries go for thousands of dollars at auctions.

 Years ago, my grandmother sent back one of my letters after reading it. She told me in the letter that she wrote that it was my history, and that I should have it back. I taped a zip lock bag into my journal and placed the letter into it. These letters truly are our histories. Who keeps a diary/journal anymore? Where do we find the time in our busy schedules to jot down the daily grind onto paper? I've gone back and read that letter years later. It was a simpler time of my life when I had fewer children, and I can now laugh at some of the things that I considered tragic at the time. How much time do we waste watching inane shows on TV for entertainment? Could our time be better spent unwinding the tangle of our minds into a letter?

 I write thank you notes  to those who have given me gifts, or done favors for me and mine, and encourage my children to do the same. They get to practice their handwriting, and show gratitude at the same time.

 I think I'll take some time today to write down a few words and tell Grandma about my week. She doesn't have a computer, and is going blind, but has told me that she has a companion that reads to her. I may even send her some pictures of her great grandchildren, since I have a digital camera, a home computer, and a printer, I can do that.

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