This past week I was thinking about how things change over time. I must be feeling nostalgic or something but I spent a little bit of time reminiscing about how things used to be when I was younger and one of those memories was about how we used to communicate with one another.
I went to a college that was several hours away from where my parents lived and since it was long before the ease of having cell phones at our disposal we had to come up with other methods of keeping in touch. The one thing that my parents asked me to do when I left for college was to write a letter to them each week. The cost of a postage stamp when I started college was a mere 15 cents and by the time I graduated it was up to 20 cents. Still, it was an affordable way to keep in touch.
But that meant that I actually had to write that letter. It seemed like a very small price to pay for the education that my parents were paying for and so I did it. I think I was pretty faithful in sending that weekly letter.
What I do remember is that I used to have fairly decent handwriting. Or at least I thought I did. But these days my handwriting has devolved into somewhat of a scrawl and I have to really concentrate to make my handwriting legible. I think it is a combination of being in a hurry and the constant use of computers. I am out of practice.
During Lent the five years or so I have added something instead of the traditional giving up of something. I have sent a handwritten homemade card or letter to someone for 40 days during that time period. Each day I choose someone near or far to send a card to to tell them what they mean to me in my life. It has become a practice that I look forward to. I have heard back from nearly every single one of those 40 people telling me that it was nice to get a card or letter in the mail. While my motivation is not to receive thanks it has certainly been a wonderful end product from a discipline that I have felt I needed to practice.
When we cleaned out my in-law’s house I discovered a drawer that held letters and more letters. It seems that Chris’s mom saved every single letter that I had ever written to them over the years. When we got married we moved away from our families and lived in Orlando, Florida where Chris was in the Navy. I continued to write weekly letters to my own parents and I suspect I wrote almost weekly letters to Chris’s parents from the looks of it. I was amazed that she kept them all.
The other day I pulled those letters out and started to leaf through them. Did I write anything that was amazingly wonderful or creative? Nope. The letter at the top of the page was my first letter written as Mrs. Chris Chiles after we arrived in Orlando post honeymoon. Oh I was so young. But to know that my mother in law thought that they were worth saving makes me smile.
Writing letters seems to be a thing of the past. With email and instant messaging, Facebook and all the other modes of social media the handwritten letter is a rarity these days. I just had a conversation with one of our neighbors and she told me she still writes a couple of letters every day. I found that to be really a wonderful thing in this day and age.
When was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter to someone?
Does an email carry the same weight or so you miss the days when the postal carrier delivered more than just bills and junk mail?
Do you have any letters that you cherish? I would love to hear about them. Feel free to share in the comment section. We have a few more days to Comment for a Cause and contribute to a Toiletry Drive for Students so don’t be shy.