The art of letter writing seems to sadly be a fading tradition in today’s technological age. Sending emails and texts have become so convenient to instantly communicate with people, that a lengthy, handwritten letter to a friend or relative is often the last thing on our minds. For many of us, anything sent via ‘snail mail’ as it has now become known, is usually no more than a greeting card or scribbled post-it note to accompany a package.
I feel fortunate to have grown up before the digital age and like many 1980s teenagers at school, I had pen pals all over the world and friends throughout the country, to exchange letters with and swap trinkets through the post. I always looked forward to the postman arriving and I have kept many of those letters today. For this reason, I have decided to make a conscious effort to put pen to paper more often.
There are many other reasons to revisit our letter writing skills. A letter can convey so much, from a simple hello and exchange of news, to expressing love or offering consolation in times of need. Taking the time and effort to express our feelings and acknowledge someone can mean the world to the recipient. In these modern times of shortened ‘text speak’ and the use of emoticons instead of words, a letter is a good way to give some thought to grammar and what we would actually like to say to someone. In fact, writing allows us time to think before we speak, which is quite often a blessing!
Writing letters is so personal and each sheet of paper retains an essence of the person who wrote it with their unique style, using their own words from the heart. Letters capture memories and become keepsakes to be reread and enjoyed for many years, far outliving deleted texts and emails. These paper sentiments are often passed down through generations; love letters from grandparents to one another and precious communications from soldiers during the war. For many soldiers, their only solace and comfort was to exchange letters with loved ones back home, and for those who tragically lost their lives and never returned, those letters became a legacy and a little piece of history to be treasured.
Writing is also a perfect way to try out calligraphy or learn hand lettering in new fonts, using glorious flourishes and swirls, in place of a quick click of a mouse to select the style of font we need. It’s well worth taking the time to practice and it can even make an artistic gift in the form of framed word art, especially when personalised with names or meaningful song lyrics.
With the vast array of beautiful stationery available today, it’s a lovely reason to choose some pretty notepaper and perhaps even a traditional fountain pen and begin to capture your thoughts. Perhaps in a hundred year’s time, someone may still be reading and treasuring your letters from the heart.