Thursday, August 6, 2015

TBT -- Notes and Letters

The art of letter writing is becoming a thing of the past, and I’m one of the culprits causing its demise! When we were children, my mother always had us writing letters and notes. We had our own stationery and note paper, and we would sit together and write.  I can still see that paper and those cards. Whenever we received a gift or were treated to something, out came the box of paper. Even when we were quite young, it was a common practice. I remember my mother teaching us the written alphabet, and she’d hold our chubby fingers as we wrote. It was just a part of our upbringing.

As I grew older, I still continued to write letters and thank-you notes. When a classmate moved away, I remember writing her weekly letters and waiting for a reply. My mother even had me become a pen pal once, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as writing to people I knew. During the summer, when I was at the shore, I’d write to my friends back home and they’d write back to me. Even when I became an adult, and I spent time on the phone, I still wrote letters. I was always buying cards and personal stationery, and I loved writing.

I carried on that tradition with my own kids. We got them their own paper, and I’d arrange a time for them to sit and write. The boys hated it, but I explained that people really enjoyed receiving letters and notes. My daughter didn’t balk at all, and she’d write at the drop of a pin. (Her brothers thought she was a ‘suck-up!’) Whenever I’d see someone to whom they had written, they were always so appreciative. I’m sure my mother felt that same pride when we were young.

Then, along came the computers and electronic mail. No one wanted to send snail mail if they could do it on  a computer. In my job as teacher, then principal, notes and letters continued to be sent back and forth to parents, and I looked forward to it. However, once email was established in the schools, it became the preferred way to communicate. It was nearly instantaneous, and I fell victim quickly. However, I had to be so careful with those notes. They could be so misconstrued, and misinterpreted if I wasn’t letter perfect. Oddly, even though I was a firm proponent of the digital age, I still continued to write notes and letters longhand to my relatives and friends.

My daughter is teaching her little boys the importance of the personal touch, too. Every time we give them gifts, a prompt thank-you note is sent. Right now, the older one just writes his name, and the younger one scribbles. But they’re learning that fine art of letter and note writing. On the other hand, my daughter now sends e-vites to her parties, and texting is her mode of writing. It’s all good, though.

Nowadays, I can no longer write longhand, but I do communicate. If a letter is called for, I will type it on the computer in a manuscript font, trying to stay true to form. I make my own cards on the computer, but I also send e-cards through a subscription I have. It’s not the same as the days of yore, though, and I often long for my dexterity to return so I could write again. Yes, I love getting emails, and yes I understand that’s the way to go, but I do miss good, old-fashioned letters.




  1. i do still write notes!! i have 2 nieces that love hand written notes and we correspond often....even though we are friends on facebook and also communicate there. there is nothing quite as exciting as snail mail....opening the mailbox and seeing something other than a bill!!!!

    1. I'm so glad to hear that you do that. It IS exciting to find a note or letter in the mailbox, and I wish more people felt that way.

  2. I have one friend in Florida who does not have e-mail and does not answer her phone after 5 p.m. I receive letters from her and reply with a handwritten letter. It is so much harder to maintain that kind of communication these days.
    I do like to send cards and short notes though.

    1. It does seem harder, but I find a sense of fulfillment when I send and receive letters.

  3. I missed this post, too. In my case, handwriting is something I try to avoid because my writing hand gets spastic, and I end up spoiling beautiful notepaper or cards. I wonder about historians, though, and what they are going to do without traditional letters, such a meaningful source of information. Maybe historians are figuring this out.

  4. What I do is to type out my note or letter, cut it to size, and glue it to the note card or stationery.
    I read that if cursive is dropped from curricula, young people won't be able to read historic documents.