A real letter arrived in my mailbox this week. This is big news! Not a thank-you note. Not an invitation. Not a letter from one of my deceased mother’s friends, who does not have an email account. Not a pseudo personal solicitation. None of the usual suspects. Rather a real letter from a friend who lives in the same city as me. Someone who has email, Facebook, etc, etc. Wow. So unusual, it made me wonder for a second if it contained really bad news. Quite the contrary. It was a delightful, thoughtful, breezy note. She is practicing the dying art of letter writing.
Have you analyzed your mailbox contents recently? Not your email in-box, but the original namesake, the old-fashioned mailbox, or letter box, or junk mail collection point, whatever you call it at your house. At our house it’s stuffed every day with credit card applications, charity donation requests, and other demographically targeted mailings attempting to separate us from our money.
The rare personal note will arrive, which contains either a handwritten thank-you note, for which I’ve often already received a text or email, or an invitation to an event already pre-anounced by an electronic Save the Date Evite, or some such online event organizer. I mustn’t forget my three friends who regularly send post cards — love these — but, overall the excitement, the surprise, the anticipation of the mailman has vanished. The thrill of opening the mail to read personal words that you might treasure, re-read and even save for decades has been replaced by the drudgery of ripping and shredding. Is your mailbox any different? Why am I continually puzzled by my young adult children’s complete disinterest in the paper mail? It’s irrelevant in their lives. If I mail something to them at college, I have to call and tell them to empty the mailbox — there is something upside about that.
I love receiving and writing real letters. Why don’t we do it anymore? There are oodles of reasons. Don’t have the street address. No stamps. Need a quick reaction. Writing is so much slower than typing. You can’t correct mistakes easily. The whole process is a hassle. It’s so last-century. Why bother?
I’m thinking I should take more time to bother with this. The old ‘last-century’ excitement of opening a real letter was re-awakened when I saw that treasure underneath the gazillionth City Bank credit card application. The real letter is more likely to be read more than once. It doesn’t get deleted or vanish into the NSA archives. Your reader will be truly delighted and even surprised today. You leave some crumbs of your thinking for posterity.
Thanks Lisa for sharing your letter writing passion with me. I was enchanted. Must log out and pick up my pen. I have a couple of letters to write today!