Letters

Words of Power

Yesterday I wrote a letter to my grandparents. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, for a lot of reasons. We don’t talk as much as I’d like to, partly because the internet isn’t exactly their medium of choice, and I don’t have a phone that fits a TTY anymore. Still, I love them, and I want to share in my fortune and misery, like family should. Mostly fortune.

But this isn’t Words of Power: Grandparents. It’s letters, because that’s what writing them got me thinking about. Let me explain. 

When was the last time you got a real, honest to god letter? I’m not talking about a card, but a letter. A sheet of paper that another human had written on to communicate meaning to you. Something they put a stamp on and sent to you specifically, not a mass mailing. I’m going to bet it’s been a really long time. Maybe even never. Letters are a thing of the past. Between email and social media, it’s not necessary to send things through the mail. You know this. If my grandparents want to find out how I’m doing, they can check my Facebook, my Twitter, or my website for most of the details.

But there’s another side to letters. When you think about them as communication, they’re unnecessary, even irrelevant. But what about as presents? As physical artifacts of affection or attention, they’re incredible. All we ever get in the mail is bills and junk usually, as well as the occasional birthday or Christmas card. You get gifts every year, things you need, things you want, things that are neither. We expend resources on each other, like time and money to get these things. But what about time and focus? How would you feel if someone sat down for an hour and wrote you a letter. By hand, not a typed page which could exist in ten or twelve copies. Just a single page that’s all for you.

How often do you get something that’s just for you?

It’s Halloween, and you don’t have time to read a huge post about this. Don’t need one, either. Last night I wrote a letter, and today I’ll likely write some more. If you could write a letter to anyone, who would you write it to?

One Comment

  1. You’ve just reminded me with this post that I have a penpal in England that I have neglected for a long time. I know that he sent something to me, but then I moved and we never connected again. Maybe I will dig up his address and write to him today. You’re right; letters are a special thing, even from an almost total stranger.

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